Friday, December 24, 2010

A blog I somehow managed to overlook

I have no idea how I have never visited this blog up until now. I came across it while looking to fill in the holes of my Endpoint discography. I strongly suggest checking this out if you're into 90s hardcore. Very thorough and dedicated work that includes full scans of all the layouts of the albums. VERY RARE SHIT HERE!!!

There Is Only One Truth

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

PATH TO MISERY: Discography

I recently was requested by a handful of people to upload our demos because apparently the blog that used to have them for download no longer does.

The Path To Misery member in me wants the 2006 Demo is fade into obscurity ... but the hardcore nerd in me wants to make it available so that I'm not a hypocrite as I hate when bands downplay their old material. I'll always be flattered whenever people go out of their way to seek out my music, so who am I to contend?

The first demo (2006) was recorded before we ever played a show. There were only three members decided upon at the time so we all wanted to throw in as little money as possible without it being a waste of time. There was a guy named Dave Piatek who was starting to record at the time. He was $15 an hour and would come to your practice space to record you. We went with this because he had made some other local bands sound way better than they did live at the time. I had never recorded instruments in the studio so I was unaware of what "triggering" a drum kit was. I had to record drums on this demo because we didn't have a drummer yet (I actually drummed at our first show). We also had a different vocalist on this demo who only ever played about 5 shows with us. We should have assumed things would not work out whenever he showed up to record with lyrics/vocal patterns to 1 and maybe a half songs. I personally thought his vocals were killer though.

There's nothing crazy on this thing other than one song that was never re-recorded or really played out that much (mainly due to most of our drummers not being able to thrash beat). It's the first track after the intro called The Untold. Mostly though, this album just features poorly-played and over-produced versions of our full length. I really, really don't like this thing. To be fair, however, we DID hand out over 400 copies of this around Pittsburgh before our first show and at our first couple shows. I suppose I should pay my respects considering this is what introduced us to the local scene.

As previously stated, we lost our original vocalist after only a few shows and replaced him with the guy who was filling in for him at the shows he wasn't coming to. We wanted to record something really quick considering we had already realized that we weren't happy with the results of the recording and wanted to display the talents of our new vocalist. We called up Dave again to come down to my basement to record us ... this time knowing a bit more the kind of sound we wanted. He brought all real mics for the drums this time (no triggers) and we had a lot more specifics in mind for the tones of all of the instruments. We recorded Third World War in about an hour ... and then the vocals took another hour ... maybe two. It was somewhere in this session that we realized our vocalist had absolutely zero rhythm in his body. But once again, the vocals were so good that is was worth looking over.

We put this track on our MySpace and kids definitely took notice. This was recorded RIGHT before the deathcore trend hit really hard, so considering the tendency of the song, we definitely found some new fans. For this same reason, however, we realized we needed to do something different ... and quick.

Due to more than a few personal differences in opinion, we parted ways with the vocalist featured on Third World War not long after the recording. It was once again time to break in a new vocalist for our next demo recording session. This time around, however, no guidance was needed in the studio. We set out to lay down two new tracks which displayed a faster, thrashier version of the band. The two songs laid down at this session were Relentless Persistence and The Gauntlet ... our two "most punk" songs to this date; lyrically and musically.

Despite the fact that we made vast improvements with Dave Piatek on the recording of Third World War from the time of the 2006 Demo, we decided to go with a different local guy by the name of Charlie Bursch for the 2007 Demo. We learned a lot from recording with Dave and 99% of our distaste for the recordings were our own fault, but we wanted a more organic sounding recording. We learned really quick that simply going into a real studio with an arched, wood ceiling would automatically make the drums sound fuller than my 7 foot tall drop ceiling basement, even if we would have been using the same exact recording equipment. Charlie has a lot of recording tricks up his sleeve that I won't go into, but essentially we were finally fully happy with a recording of ours.

When it came time to record our full length almost a year later, it was obvious that we would be returning to Charlie at Elicit Sound Studios for the engineering. Naturally our vocalist had left, so it was once again time for a replacement. I decided to step up to the plate this time around. I also once again recorded drums and bass for the offering. These were done mostly in a single take; as were the guitars. The vocals, however, were a different story. I re-recorded vocals for the entire album twice before being mildly tolerant of the third and final take that we chose to keep. It wasn't until I had screamed my vocal chords to the point where my only means of creating noise was screaming that I got any sort of tone I could tolerate. While I'm still not entirely happy with the quality of my vocal performance, I think, at the very least, that my passion and enthusiasm for the lyrical content shows through.

Before we ran off to the shipping plant, we were really contemplating our choices about producing a product that, regardless of our enthusiasm for the outcome and the personal accomplishment felt by its completion, was just another needless product being created that would eventually wind up in the landfill. We had already made a decision to no longer produce merchandise. After several days of thought-processing, we agreed that our music and our message was in a different league than a t-shirt ... or a sticker ... or a thong ... or a beer cozy. We decided that while still focusing on creating as sustainable of a product as possible, the potential positive benefit of someone taking heed to our lyrics far outweighs the 100% recycled and recyclable cardboard content of our layout. I had a mental image of the nearly 1000 slimline cases and plastic sleeves that contained our initial two demos and never wanted to call for that much waste to be put into production ever again. Stumptown Printers is an amazingly friendly, cooperatively ran print shop based out of Portland, OR that offers environmentally sustainable packaging for CDs, Records and probably a lot more. Their services are partially responsible for our decision to bring a physical CD to fruition.

We also had a bit of label help with releasing this thing. Without ever thinking that someone outside of our band would ever be interested in helping us in ANY form, David Anthem from Southern Empire Records went out of his way to contact us about helping with the release. I've grown quite accustomed to releasing my own bands' music over the years, so to have someone outside of the band offering to help was something new to me. I've always felt that most labels were useless in the sense that I typically had better distribution tactics on my own, but the respect garnered by the label was enough for me. Joining the ranks of Prayer For Cleansing and Giant (their other two releases at the time) had me sold from the get-go. The label has since closed up shop, but David (the guy at the label instrumental in our "signing") has started a new endeavor called Communitas which has released an amazing band from NC called Torch Runner.

I'm actually quite proud of our CD layout and artwork, but have never talked about it in an interview or anything. The person (gender-neutral of course, haha) is simultaneously grasping snakes in his or her left hand while severing its own body from the roots of a tree which stems into blood and organs (only visible when fully opening the layout). The conquering of the snakes symbolizes overcoming the lies and deceit inherent in our society as it stands (plus I fucking hate snakes). The severing of the body from the roots is allegorical of removing yourself from the confines of the past ... either nature (organs symbolizing biological and adolescent impressions) or nurture (blood symbolizing the violent history of our society and its traditions). We feel as though only through defeating the lies of the present while simultaneously overcoming the destructive nature of humanity's past will one find any sort of inner peace ... and we wanted to display that through the artwork and layout considering we couldn't think of a title for the album as sick as "As Tradition Dies Slowly", haha.

We included a rather lengthy writing in the booklet of the CD about both the recording process and the meaning of the lyrics; what we used and why we used it ... and why the songs are so special to us. Despite the fact that the upload I am including for the full length includes a text file of our lyrics (equally as important as the music), I feel like there should be at least SOMETHING unique to the actual release that you can't obtain through the click of a finger. I still wholeheartedly believe that Mp3s of an album will never capture the same feeling that a disc or LP will; booklet in hand and all. Consider this a sampling of what our full length has to offer.

If anyone wants a copy of the full length ... just PayPal $7 to and put in the note what the money is for. This offer applies to anywhere in the world. Please pass this around.

In case you are wondering what the pictures of the cassette demos are above ... I will explain. I have rounded up nearly 100 old cassettes that I will be re-recording over to produce copies of our demos and possibly full length for our final show to give to those who may not have the means to purchase our album. I'm also bothering with this endeavor to demonstrate the option of using recycled material in order to distribute your music and message. All it takes is a little piece of tape over the open tab on the top of an old Foreigner cassette and you have sustainably created a copy of your band's material.

DOWNLOAD - Path To Misery - Demo 2006
DOWNLOAD - Path To Misery - Demo 2007
DOWNLOAD - Path To Misery - self-titled full length

FRAGMENT: Discography

How the fuck did it take me this long to post about Fragment?!?! How awesome was Pin Drop Records graphic design team!!?!!?

Here is most of what I know about Fragment: they were from MA and brought the fucking mosh in the late 90s/early 2000s. Considering that is about the extent of my knowledge on these guys, I'm going to do some copy/paste work from the LastFM page which is surprisingly overly thorough for some reason.

"Fragment (aka Outright, aka Fragment Metal) was formed under the name Outright in Upton, Massachusetts in the spring of 1996 by Steve Provost (vocals), Jason Johnson (guitar), Jay Fox (guitar), Al Bigelow (drums) and Mark Wood (bass). The band started playing local shows after 3 weeks. Their early sound was in the vein of hardcore giants Strife and Earth Crisis, but later evolved into the metalcore sound of local favorites such as Overcast. They were often associated with the straightedge music scene (all of the members were at that time), but they didn’t bill themselves as such. After a few months they decided to change their name to Fragment after finding another hardcore band named Outright. (Ironically, there are more bands named Fragment then Outright.)

Their first published work was a 4-song demo tape that they distributed for free. It was “published” by a made-up record label named Evil Bloom Records, a tongue-in-cheek reference to a friend of the band. They also published a track on a 7” record titled Nothing Left To Chance for the label Home Fire Records.

In 1997 there was a schism in the band over personal issues and the band was declared as dead. However, Provost and Johnson decided to carry on the project and recruited Chris Bloom (bass) and Jeff Wheeler (drums). (The remaining members would go on to form several other successful projects, most notably Fortydaysrain.) The new lineup quickly dropped most of the original material and started working on new songs with a more technical metal sound. They later recruited Jim Felix as a second guitarist, and began making plans to record a full-length CD. That CD, Angels Never Came, was released in 1998 on Pindrop Records. The new lineup continued to play the Worcester, Boston and Providence areas regularly with bands such as Blood Has Been Shed, The Year of Our Lord, Diecast, Bane, Barrit, etc. They also went on several East-coast tours. In 2000, they went back into the studio to record their second and final album, Answers, which was originally published by Pindrop Records but later re-published by Voice of Life Records in Germany.

In the years following the release of their first CD, the line up went through several more changes. Jim Felix, Jay Johnson and Chris Bloom all left the band at one time or another to pursue other interests, though Jim and Jay would return before the band finally broke up. Chris Bloom was replaced by Chris Hill. Other members included Allan Arakelian and Jeff Wiersma, and some shorter-lived members.

The band’s last climax came in the form of a 1-month European tour in early 2001 in support of the Voice of Life deal. They broke-up for good a few months after returning home."

I suppose I don't really have much to add to this. I definitely hear a strong Birthright connection on the earlier material. I'd really like to hear or own a copy of the demo cassette. I'm adding the Nothing Left To Chance 7" to my list of vinyl to rip as soon as my record player gets back from the shop (shit is taking forever). I suppose a notable contribution are the guest vocals by Howard Jones on the first track of the Answers CD. Both albums had sick ass intros ... enough said.

I've been strangely obsessed with Fragment since I randomly bought the CD at the local record shop for $1 back in 2000 ... but not only due to the music contained on the disc. The one thing the article I stole failed to mention is that on their debut album, Fragment allowed a friend's band called Infuse to put a "guest song" on the end of the album. I have literally never seen this done before or after by any band. I think it really, really personifies the ethos of the 90s DIY hardcore scene. When I first picked up this disc in 2000, I was still familiarizing myself with how the world of hardcore worked in comparison to METAL. This act of generosity shown towards what was presumably a local friends' band was something I had never even conceptualized. I still to this day want to do something similar ... I actually just forgot I wanted to do this whenever I put out the Path To Misery CD. Maybe next time.

To sum up this post, I'm going to type out the writing contained underneath the disc in the Answers layout. Worded simply as only a 90s hardcore band could ... for some reason, this speech just strikes a chord with me.

"Our music is our personal message, meant to express our own angst, problems and passions in life. We express it openly in case anyone else should happen to hear what we have to say and can latch onto it in any way or form.

Sometimes it's not in the lyrics that you can find something familiar in, but in the shape of the music, the power and the energy of it, the way it makes you smile, yell, run, scream, think, dream, vent or whatever.

Music is universal, no matter where you go, music sounds like music, it unites anyone who is intelligent enough to hear it. We write our music for this. This music is us, there is nothing fake in it."

NOTE: I left the punctuation and grammar as is.

Infuse is kinda sick ... I'd shit a brick if anyone somehow came up with some info or Mp3s of this band.

DOWNLOAD - Angels Never Came
DOWNLOAD - Answers

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Recently got into a conversation with a friend about how Advent is literally the only band since Buried Alive to come remotely close to emulating their sound. It made me remember of a demo I used to distro back in 2004 from a band called Of Wolves. They were a Vegan Straight Edge band from Rochester, NY and shared a few members with the also short-lived xWitnessx from the same area. While Witness took a positive melodic approach, Of Wolves straight up ripped off Buried Alive without remorse ... and I'm not complaining in the slightest.

While this demo is nowhere near as tight as The Death Of Your Perfect World full length by Buried Alive, it definitely has more than its fair share of mosh-worthy moments. The drumming on this recording could definitely be tightened up in some parts ... and perhaps the band could have been a bit more subtle with some of the riffs they chose to rip off ... but overall this thing rules.

Despite the obviously doctored drums, the recording is pretty good overall. The bass tone would bring Buried Alive to mind whether the musical style was similar or not. Overall this is a solid release that I tend to jam more often than most CD-R demos laying around in the collection. If nothing else, the lyrics on this offering win me over.

I know the band has no other releases, but would love to hear any other musical endeavors these guys took up before or after this band.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

STIGMATA: Discography

Before I even get started I'm going to acknowledge the fact that I don't have the debut 7" "Strength In Hate" or the Victory Records 7" up (I think it was called Stick Tight). I know Mike Ski did the artwork for the Victory release and that they are both rare as shit. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

That being said, Stigmata is simultaneously world-renowned and well-respected yet mostly unheard of. Rising from the ashes of their former thrash punk bands in the 1980s, Stigmata officially came together in 1989. Their debut 7" was recorded in the same session as their first full length offering, The Calling Of The Just. They both came out in 199o and featured a primarily crossover-influenced sound. Despite the overall metal feel of the album, the hardcore influences which would eventually dominate their sound are easily recognized throughout the album.

The follow-up album, The Heart Grows Harder, saw the band moving in a steady direction towards what would become their pinnacle sound. The vocals saw heavy progression into the infamous sound that would one day personify Stigmata. Despite these steps into the progression that the band was taking, overall the album had a sound extremely similar to the ...And Justice For All album. It also seemed as though guitarist Mike Maney could have been taking lessons from Kirk Hammet at the time.

I'm going to interrupt myself here for a minute and include the writing from the inside of the booklet of the Troy Blood Unbeaten retrospective CD that the band released in 1997 on local label, Step Up Productions. Some of this is repeated from my earlier writing, but it also explains a lot of the background information as to what was going on with the band and perhaps sheds a bit of insight as to why the band still to this day has yet to reach their full recognition. Excuse the grammar, I'm merely transcribing.

"This is for all the people everywhere who constantly ask how Stigmata started. At the suggestions of Dave Stein, Mike Maney, Matt Grisald and I, we started our first band, D.A., in 1986. As you can hear from the recording we could barely play, but at least it kept us off the street and out of trouble. We did our very first show to a packed club opening for Blast, Corrosion Of Conformity and DRI. This was our introduction to the scene! Then in 1987 with the addition of Dan Walsh & Dan Matusie, we became Cranial Abuse. We made a Demo and appeared on Combined Efforts' Albany Style Hardcore compilation 7". We also managed to get banned from every club in our area as they said our following was too violent. So in 1989, in an effort to be taken more seriously with our music, we changed our name to Stigmata. We recorded our first demo with Jack Daily (who now plays bass for Lenny Kravitz) and only released 7 of these songs. The rest are being heard for the first time in almost 10 years on this CD. In 1990 with the addition of drummer Pat O'Reilly (Wolfpack, Final Terror), CFY Records flew us out to California and we recorded the "Strength In Hate" 7" and "The Calling Of The Just" CD simultaneously. For financial reasons the CD didn't come out until 3 years later.

So with the addition of Jay Sunkes on guitar in 1992, we then recorded the now infamous "The Heart Grows Harder" CD for some scumbag German label. This CD had no distribution at all. Only 200 copies made it to the US because we had to buy them from the fucking asshole! So for this reason and many others that still haunt us to this day, all ties with this label were severed. Die a slow hard death, dickhead! The band really didn't so much studio-wise until 1994. With the addition of drummer Jason Bittner we recorded the "Hymns For An Unknown God" CD for Trainwreck Records. This was a collaboration with best friend and long-time influence Harley Flanagan (Cro-Mags, White Devil) who produced and appeared on the CD. However, the Stigmata curse was in full effect. Trainwreck Records crashed and the CD was shelved. So while searching for a suitable deal of this release this, Sunkes and I went and help our brothers Merauder sing back up on the now-classic "Master Killer" CD. So then, in 1995, a Merauder-Stigmata split 7" called "Brotherhood" came out. Finally in 1995, negotiations with Too Damn Hype Records were made and "H
ymns For An Unknown God" was released in 1997. So that's it, short and to the point. To all the people who've been in the band and to all the people all over the world who've supported us ... thanks, this is for you. To the rest of you, you're nothin' but enemies. Fuck off.

-Riley 97".

This brings us to the infamous "Hymns For An Unknown God" album. As stated earlier, this was produced by Harley Flanagan from the Cro-Mags and has a much more "professional" sound than previous efforts from the band. According to most fans, this is considered to be the pinnacle album and era for the band. At the time of the writing from above, it wasn't known that drummer Jason Bittner would later go on to join Shadows Fall. The drumming is more than proficient on this album and one should not find it hard to believe his future endeavors judging from this performance.

Somewhere around here is where the band would release the notoriously rare albums on local label Step Up Productions: Troy Blood Unbeaten (noted above) and Pain Has No Boundaries. The former serving as a double disc retrospective featuring demos from Stigmata, Cranial Abuse and DA as well as select tracks from the first two full lengths (not in their entirety though). The latter was split in half between live tracks recorded in 1998 and half studio tracks recorded presumably around the same time. The studio session was comprised of eight tracks which were probably used to shop to labels considering three of the eight tracks would later be re-recorded for their follow-up full length offering.

At this point, the band could no longer be ignored and were signed to the then-monumental Victory Records. The album served as the band's crowning moment after over 10 years of hard work. While not entirely void of their former thrash influences, the album definitely found itself being moreso inspired by their NYHC counterparts. Whatever you want to consider the album to be musically, it is definitely the pinnacle of Hard Style ... the perfection of hard grooves met with even harder lyrics and vocals.

The band slowly faded out not long after the release of this album and officially ended with Jason Bittner joining Shadows Fall. The band has played three reunion shows in the past 5 years with performances in 2005, 2008 and 2009 ... hopefully there will be another one soon so I can get the Stigmata out of my system.

If anyone has Mp3s to send me of either of their 7"s or the split with Merauder (only has one track from each on it) ... it would be greatly appreciated. Hard copies for sale would be even moreso appreciated.

DOWNLOAD - The Calling Of The Just (only ripped at 192 ... do not own a physical copy of this)
DOWNLOAD - The Heart Grows Harder
DOWNLOAD - Troy Blood Unbeaten (Stigmata 1989 Demo - Tracks 1-13 ... Cranial Abuse 1987 Demo - Tracks 14-21 ... D.A. 1986 Demo - Tracks 22-25)
DOWNLOAD - Hymns For An Unknown God
DOWNLOAD - Demo 1997 (Taken from Disc 2 of the Troy Blood Unbeaten CD)
DOWNLOAD - Pain Has No Boundaries
DOWNLOAD - Do Unto Others

Friday, November 12, 2010

Random Thoughts pt 371

I logged into my e-mail today to find a message from a guy named Joab. He's 30, from the Philippines and has been down with hardcore since 1997. He wrote me to thank me for informing him of the new project from ex-members of Trial and Catharsis called Between Earth And Sky that I did a write-up on a few months ago. I checked out his blog and came to a few realizations.

Firstly, I was blown away by the picture he had posted of his bedroom. Perhaps I'm making assumptions here and perhaps I'll sound a bit naive of the living conditions in the Philippines, but judging from this picture, the living quarters seem quite small in comparison to what most American homes probably look like. I'm obviously not stating this in a condescending manner as I've been well outspoken in the past about the perils of Americans living in excess. I'm bringing this up because if you really take a look at this picture, you'll realize that it is essentially an entire room dedicated to music ... and that is something I respect and admire.

It's always nice to run into people who seem to have the same dedication and passion for music as you do. It's also nice to experience a bit of deja vu of the days whenever people really had to dig into the crates to find information on new bands or just the general happenings of the day in hardcore. The excitement expressed in this e-mail that I received from across the world was more than refreshing. Finding out that members of your favorite bands from the past are getting together to do a new project because you took the time to sift through piles and piles of random, mostly meaningless texts ... how exciting is that?

Quite ironically I was also recently contacted by a man named Harrison, who is also well into his years of hardcore, through an order he made from my webstore I was doing at the time. Apparently he had been seeking out the original Too Pure To Die full length for quite some time and inquired as to how I had copies for sale. We started talking about my past membership and he told me a rather unbelievable story about how whilst temporarily living in China he would use the album as an example to show other kids he was growing up with what Straight Edge Hardcore was all about. Feel free to have your opinions on TPTD being a worthy example of "Straight Edge Hardcore"; my point is that getting messages like these are quite humbling in many different ways.

It's obviously always cool to have someone appreciate the art that you put out; especially whenever they point out some of the more obscure specifics that you were always secretly hoping someone would pick up on. It's also awesome whenever you get the feeling as though all of the hours of your life that you waste on creating what sometimes seem as pointless write-ups for some silly blog are worth it. Little things like this far outweigh the negative vibes you typically feel when touring across the US or reading anything written by anyone on a message board ... ever. I digress.

I think we typically take for granted the fact that information is so accessible now. The fact that you can have essentially ANY sort of news in the world that you want forwarded directly to your phone or computer without the slightest bit of effort is quite a technological feat. Whenever I receive messages like the previous two examples I mentioned, it makes me fall in love with hardcore all over again. Seeing that there are like-minded people out there who are more than enthusiastic about continually seeking out new bands and ideals is always going to be uplifting in my eyes.

If you're interested in checking out Joab's blog from the Philippines or Harrison's band from China ... check the following links.

Real Tight Crew Blog
Hutong First MySpace

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Realization...

Never realized that people from all over the world read this blog semi-regularly. Makes you remember that problems with local yokels or personal frustrations aren't worth posting. Makes you remember that the band needs to focus on genuine world problems. We're planning on doing just that. Once again have essentially an entirely new line-up. Full time percussionist this time around. More details and show info coming soon.

Since I'm here, I'm going to share one of my favorite demos of 2010. I was impressed firstly by the fact that a new, young band in the year 2010 made physical copies of their demo that has an actual layout to hand out for free. Secondly I was impressed by the fact that I listened to a demo the whole way through ... twice. It's been a while since I've done that.

I went out to one of their shows at some sort of grocery store turned youth center in the backwoods of PA. I had seen their old band a few times and always thought it was cool for their age/experience but this time I thought it was just plain cool. These guys are proclaiming the word of their god and not ashamed to admit it. Obviously not my cup of tea but I respect anyone who stands as firmly in their conviction as these guys do. If someone is down to drive two hours to a Path To Misery show in a blizzard to hear me proclaim the lyrics "Fuck your cult and fuck your faith ... when it imposes upon the fate of those undeserving of the grace to be shown through a god left unknown" and then still continue to wear a Path To Misery shirt in their promo pictures ... I'm down to throw up a hand to exalt the pre-set prayer circle that includes the entire show.

Most modern hardcore fans would say it sounds like For The Fallen Dreams (which it does at times) ... but I hear more 7 Angels 7 Plagues influences in the melodic parts of the songs. They might not even know who that is, but that's what I hear despite the obvious modern influences. Good, genuine people who will be making an appearance on Sincerity Fest next year.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hardcore Distros...

One of my favorite parts of going to shows "back in the day" was the potential of some random distro showing up and allowing me the opportunity to buy all of the CDs I had been reading reviews about in zines or hearing about through the grapevine. I would specifically drive to shows in NJ or eastern PA solely because I would catch wind that Joe from Nine Iron Distro would be in the house. It also wasn't uncommon for bands themselves to be carrying their own small distros along with their merch in order to help spread the word of other bands from their area. Additionally, the stories of Rick Ta Life's distro are infamous to this day ... and I'm going to venture to say that if you've never heard one that you may or may not be living under a hardcore rock. Those days are obviously long gone, but as with everything else I do involving hardcore ... I'm trying to keep some of the old traditions alive.

I started my own "distro" in 2002 at the first show at the venue I ran back then called The Planet Of The Apes. I wanted there to be a distro present at all of the shows ... so I just pulled a bunch of CDs from my collection to sell so that I would have money to pick up copies of CDs from all of the bands who would play at my spot. I sold enough of my used CDs at the first show to pick up three discs from all of the bands who played the grand opening show ... Shattered Realm, Strength For A Reason, Final Stand and By Any Means Necessary. The distro grew as more and more shows would come through the venue and somewhat regretfully, I've since built my distro up from a shoebox to the point where I could literally open up a store of my own.

As with most of my endeavors, the timing couldn't be worse. My backstock has been growing as interest in CDs have been declining. Mp3s and vinyl are obviously all of the rage these days and while I DO carry some vinyl, 90% of my distro is compacted onto a disc. Most of my favorite releases from the mid-90s through the mid-2000s were ONLY released on CD so I will probably always have a leaning tendencies towards the format. I pride myself on the fact that you can buy a physical CD from my distro for HALF the price of what you would pay for Mp3s of the same album on iTunes or Amazon or whatever ... not to mention the fact that most of what I carry isn't even available for purchase anywhere else.

Either way, my distro primarily serves as a hobby for me these days as it is most definitely not paying any sort of bills. The concept of a distro is completely foreign to most people under the age of 21 it seems. In fact, it's to the point where most younger kids will come up to me whenever I am set up at a show to ask me why I brought my CD collection to the show! I don't even bother bringing the distro with me in the rare instance that I attend a tour-package show due to the fact that "tour managers" say that the distro is cutting into their merch sales. The concept of a "scene" is so far gone in 2010 and I think acts of greed such as this are a prime example of it. I digress.

One of the most notorious distros of the 90s (and even 2000s) was Very Distro ... if you will. Based out of Philadelphia, PA, Very was by far the largest distro going at the time. It was the go-to place for anything you wanted that wasn't on Victory or Roadrunner. I specifically remember dropping about $300 on their table at Hell Fest 2001. Over time, however, the distro naturally focused moreso on their online store as opposed to setting up at shows. Roughly a year or so ago the website disappeared. No one really knew what was going on with the notorious store until Stuck In The Past posted a blog about the owner becoming ill. Apparently he decided to give up the distro game and I was fortunate enough to get an offer to go through the remnants.

I purchased about 1000 CDs to add to my own distro of already roughly 2000 discs and records. I think it's safe to say that I am overflowing a bit. I'm trying to make back a bit of the money I dropped into this endeavor so I'm going to post a link at the bottom of this blog to my store. The next step after allowing me to go through the distro was to allow some sort of wholesaler to buy the remaining stock as a lot to piece out on various online places such as Amazon or eBay or whatever. I would have hated to see some of these gems become lost in what I'm sure would be some stock room never to be seen again so I buckled down and went through about 20,000 CDs and picked out pretty much anything and everything that I felt embodied what I feel to be special about hardcore.

I had more fun going through these CDs than I've had doing anything in a while (how crazy does that make me sound?). I was finding albums I had been looking for since 1999, I was finding albums I never knew existed and I was buying random CDs from random bands I had never heard of before. Essentially I was having a fucking field day ... the same kind of field day I would have going to shows in the early 2000s.

I'd like to think that I bring some sort of enjoyment to some of the older attendees at shows whenever I bring my distro ... and maybe some of the brighter younger ones too. While most kids younger than me pass right by without a second glance and tour managers treat it as a burden, the lost art of distro'ing will always be appreciated by those who remember the relevance it played in the hardcore scene of the past.

Hopefully you can gain some sort of enjoyment from browsing through the online version of my distro. I do my best to take it with me to any and all shows I attend in the PA region ... but there are plenty of you in other parts of the world who would never get to check it out otherwise. So, here it is ... the Preserving Silence Distro in all of it's glory. The store is obviously more stacked now than it ever has been in the past 8 years I've been running it. I'm fairly certain that it's pretty easy to browse. By default it allows you to go through the entire inventory, but you can also search specifically through each of the sections on the left side of the screen ... and that includes the infamous RARE CDs section where you will find some things you probably never thought you would. Combined shipping is cheap as dirt and I always make a point to include some sort of bonus item with any purchase.


The store is hosted on an amazing site called Limited Pressing. They were more than gracious in giving me an entire year of free hosting due to them trying to get their name out amongst the community at large. Limited Pressing is a totally independent and legitimate record trading/auction site/webstore hosting/community based venture ran "by the kids, for the kids". Their support team is amazing and have helped me build an entirely legitimate webstore from scratch. If your band needs a webstore, you want to get in with the most happening record trading site going right now or just want to avoid eBay's ridiculous auction fees (aka post auctions on Limited Pressing FOR FREE) ... then stop by and make an account. You have to make one either way to make a purchase from my store ... but the extent of making an account is picking a user name and a password. It's obviously all completely free and you never have to go back again if you don't want to ... but I definitely think it's a worthwhile website that is there to serve YOU ... the community. Who would have guessed?

As I mentioned earlier ... while going through the remnants of Very Distro, I got to relive one of my favorite hobbies of weeding through crate-upon-crate of independently-released hardcore and metal CDs in hopes of finding some new band that I never heard of before. Well, I did just that whenever I blindly purchased Bible Of The Self 's full length, self-titled and self-released album. This is honestly one of my favorite metalcore bands I've ever listened to. The sound is indescribable to me right now (maybe I'll come up with something after a few more listens). They were from Florida and the album was recorded in the year 2000. That is all I know about this band as of right now. Feel free to leave a comment with any and all info you may have. Other recordings from this band would be great.

DOWNLOAD - Bible Of The Self - st


Finally, on a side note, I want to post links to some other respectable online distros that I tend to frequent.

Surprise Attack Records - Scene veteran EMS' long-standing label/distro that used to have a store of its own in Erie, PA. Good memories of shopping there.
xStuck In The Pastx - The infamous blog's infamous webstore known for carrying mostly international bands. Has some rare gems from the 90s up as well. Also hosted on Limited Pressing.
Retribution Network - THE place to go if you're from Japan ... Hiro who runs the store is constantly on the prowl for young, sincere bands to carry albums from. The Japanese Rick Ta Life if you will. The link to the website is through Google's translator service. If it doesn't work for you ... just go to and figure it out on your own.
xCatalyst Recordsx - The place to go for Vegan Straight Edge titles from all over the world ... not to mention the label's impressive back catalog ... most of which are usually on sale for a very modest price.

If you have any other links to other webstores ... PLEASE post them in the comments section. I would love to check them out myself. We all know about Deathwish and Revelation and whatever, so we're obviously leaning towards more obscure or independent release-oriented sites.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Posting the Nights Like These album brought about some memories from past tours I've done. I spent a lot of time in the midwest on these tours. I got to watch a lot of mosh metalcore on these tours. The pinnacle of the combination of these factors is With Dead Hands Rising. I think they called Minneapolis their hometown but as with most midwestern bands, the members were usually all at least 2 hours apart from each other.

My first interaction with the band was in 2001 when I received two CDs from the band for the zine I was doing at the time, Preserving Silence. The first disc was their debut 2001 Demo and the second disc was their portion of the upcoming Words As Weapons (Volume One) three-way split CD on Life Sentence Records. I chose to include the entire split in the upload due to Wings Of Scarlet and Tears Will Drown also kicking ass. Either way, both of these recordings were mind-blowing to me at the time, but obviously pale in comparison to the later material of the band (as all older material should in comparison to later works of a band).

I don't want to say With Dead Hands Rising were doing anything groundbreaking at the time (this was the era of ripping off At The Gates and In Flames), but they did so quite convincingly and with a bit of insight as to where the band was about to head towards. As stated earlier, I'm quite the fan of the other two bands from the three-way split, but you could use them both as representatives of what was typically going on with metalcore at the time. The difference becomes quite obvious whenever the With Dead Hands Rising tracks hit.

Not ones to waste any time, the band quickly followed up these debut efforts in July of 2002 with the release of their first full length, Behind Inquisition. This is where the tides first turned for the band. The progression made within the course of a year is quite astonishing upon looking back. Most bands are still playing out songs for a year or two before they even think about writing new material, let alone improving ten times over while producing ten new tracks for a full length. There are songs on this full length that the band included in their set list up until their dissolution in 2009. The technical proficiency apparent on this full length was becoming a stronghold for the band, an insight as to what would come in the future.

It wouldn't be until 2004 that the band would release new material in form of the Horror Grows Near EP. This six song offering would be the last to feature the original vocalist but the first to garner any mentionable acclaim from metal publications. I specifically remember being on tour with these guys at the time where they all went into Hot Topic and read through all of the metal magazines looking for reviews of the new album. They found them the reviews and they were all good ... and the band was stoked.

As stated previously the original vocalist of the band left not long after the release of this EP, but was quickly replaced by one Burke Van Raalte ... a living legend for many reasons. For the purpose of this write-up, however, we will focus primarily on his vocal skills. To no discredit of the original vocalist, hearing what a vocalist with a bit more range could do to some of the older tracks was quite mind-blowing. I have a lot of really good live videos from this era of these guys that I should really, really upload. If one were to see these videos, it can be assumed that great impressions would be taken not only of Burke on vocals, but of Kevin on drums as well.

Presumably the band did not offer a new release until 2008 due to all of the member changes that the band went through from the period of 2004 until essentially the end of the band. Trying to find musicians within 10 hours in the midwest who were capable of playing this material was no easy task I am sure. While I personally felt as though Kevin was a perfect fit on drums for the material the band was playing at the time (the EP plus two songs from Behind Inquisition) the apparently wanted to go in a faster, more technical route and sought out their final drummer, Dan. I'm not sure they would have ever been able to replace that guy if they needed to. I honestly can't even keep track of how many guitarists the band had throughout the past few years of the band. I know at one point they had four in their rotating cast, sometimes playing with three at a time live.

Regardless of member problems, the band produced their final offering in the form of Expect Hell. Remember all of the progression the band made in one year? And then in two years? Yeah, well imagine what they came up with in four years. This is a legit heavy metal album ... rarely any mosh parts, non-stop double bass, a legitimately talented vocalist with serious range and musical interludes to top it all off. The band definitely threw off some of their former mosh fan base (for better or for worse) with this one. Regretfully, however, the album didn't seem to make as big of a wave as it probably should have despite the band touring non-stop on the album for almost a year.

Unfortunately the mosh kids were left in the cold with the final release and the metalheads never really cared to take note of the masterpiece which was lingering right in front of their eyes. For whatever reason, the band broke up not too long after the release of this full length. It's quite a shame too considering that bands like After The Burial straight up steal riffs from this album (and previous WDHR CDs too) and make a living/reputation off of them. That's how life goes I suppose ... the true artists never receive the respect due. That is what this blog is here for though.

DOWNLOAD - Demo 2001 
DOWNLOAD - Words As Weapons (2002)
DOWNLOAD - Behind Inquisition (2003)
DOWNLOAD - Horror Grows Near EP (2006)
DOWNLOAD - Expect Hell (2008)

NIGHTS LIKE THESE: The Faithless (God City version)

Nights Like These, in case you aren't familiar, was a band from Memphis, Tennessee from roughly 2003 until 2008 or so. I had the pleasure of doing a tour with them in the summer of 2006, right when this album was being released on Victory Records. Well, not this exact album, but these songs. I'll explain later.

Anyhow, they started the band when they were 14/15 and had been playing and continually refining the same set of songs since the inception of the band. When you listen to the tracks you can tell where they could have been written by younger kids due to their overall simplicity yet played with perfection due to constant fine-tuning and re-working. This album is a culmination of a few years of presumably hard work.

As for why I referenced earlier about this not being the EXACT release on Victory Records ... that is because this is an alternate version of the album that was actually released to the public. The band had self-funded this full length offering and had the intentions of self-releasing it until Victory got their hands on it. Victory told them they wanted to release the album but that this recording was too "raw". Keep in mind this was 2006 and being gritty and raw or whatever wasn't quite accepted in "mainstream" hardcore. Converge worship wasn't quite in full effect yet. Oh, the glory days. I digress.

The story goes that Victory sent the band back into the studio to "fix" the old recording by making them completely re-record it. It features the entire album plus two new tracks: "Ghost Town Ritual" and "Eternal Tempest". Oh yeah, and Victory presumably made them change one song name from Eggbeater Abortion to Memento Mori. This album was laid to the wayside never to be officially released. I promised the guys I wouldn't leak it at the time, but I'm thinking 4 years down the road and now that they are essentially disbanded that it would be OK. Either way, this album rules. Not that there is anything wrong with the version that Victory released, but whenever you play the two side by side there is an obvious champion.

To no discredit to the guys in Nights Like These, the first thing I told them after seeing them on the tour we were on together was that they sounded EXACTLY like Premonitions Of War (a huge compliment in my mind). Not a single person in the band had ever heard of them (SAME LABEL!). While I was mildly blown away at their metalcore ignorance it made me like the band even more due to the fact that they weren't blatantly knocking anyone's style off.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quick story ...

I am planning a trip to Long Island to see the Disembodied/Monument To Thieves show on October 22nd, so I took a trip to the Facebook event page for the show. There was a small batch of kids who were all demanding that Path To Misery play the show. It was only one comment with 6 "likes", yet I was still shocked at the fact that people who I have never even met (in a city we've never played before) are being supportive of my band. I will ALWAYS be humbled whenever people who are not my friends are into my musical projects. The last thing that any of my bands are about is to please people, so whenever it happens on accident ... I am truly grateful.

Something about this simple gesture made me realize that there really are kids out there who truly believe in what this band is about and does. My friends try to convince me of this from time to time but I always tend to blow them off for some reason or another (because I'm assuming they're only saying it due to being ... well, my friends).

My point is that as much as I am sure to not act like it ... any support that this band has ever gotten is appreciated more than probably any band has ever appreciated support. (Although that may be false considering the immense gratitude I received from Between Earth And Sky for the write-up I gave them). I know that this band has quite a controversial past and continues on in that tradition even when we're not playing shows, however, this is the ENTIRE purpose of the band. Path To Misery was created solely to try and call into question subjects that often-times go unobserved within the hardcore scene. Whether I'm questioning something as serious as the outlook that humanity commonly holds against the rest of the world that it is surrounded by or something as menial as the manner in which people conduct themselves at our shows, I say what I say and do what I do for a reason: to make people think and question themselves. I call myself out more than I do any of you ... so just take it like a man and keep moshing.

At the end of the day, I just want you all to know that I love you all.

Speaking of anonymous "fan support" that makes me feel warm inside ... here is a video someone filmed of us from the last show we played opening for Earth Crisis and First Blood in Altoona back in April.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I figured since I'm not going to be going through the process of ripping and uploading any music until I get some reciprocated love from my readers that I would take the time to promote what is my absolute favorite new hardcore band of the past several years: Between Earth And Sky.

While the band is most notorious for featuring Greg Bennick from Trial on vocals, let me elaborate on the past projects of the other members. Two other members have also spent time in Trial. The bassist of Between Earth And Sky, EJ, as well as the drummer, Alexi Rodriguez, are no strangers to Trial. In fact, said drummer has also spent time in Catharsis. To top all of this off, the two guitarists of the project have partaken in By A Thread and Strain amongst a few others. If that isn't an impressive enough resume I don't know what would be.

Keep in mind when I say this that Trial and Catharsis are obviously two of my favorite bands of all time ... Between Earth And Sky is every bit as poignant as the projects in which have preceded them. The lyrics are obviously top notch considering the pen in which they're flowing from. According to their band bio, a strong influence amongst the project (and presumably lyrics) come from "the writings of Ernest Becker and Samuel Beckett". Furthermore, the band describes their music as "delv(ing) deeply into irony by attempting to use powerful, fast, yet melodic hardcore songs with insightful lyrics in a vain attempt to unravel their anxiety about the inevitability of their demise." I'm using quote a lot because I can't describe things better than Greg Bennick can.

That being said, the band has two songs posted online. One track, on their MySpace page, is a shorter track which gives only a small glimpse into the full potential of the band. The song, Of Roots And Wings, however, that is featured on their BandCamp page is a true indication as to what the band is capable of. Obviously featuring strong similarities to Trial and Catharsis, the band also takes a more melodic approach, often times even bordering on an improved take on what Refused was going for on their final full length.

At the end of the day I feel like I'm not doing this band justice through my descriptions. Go to the links and allow the music and lyrics to speak for themselves. They have an EP coming out sometime in the near future on Hell Fish Records in the US and Refuse Records in Europe. Keep your eyes and ears open and be sure to support this most sincere of projects.

Friday, August 13, 2010

ONE 4 ONE: Seven Year Cicada

As many of my faithful readers know, I'm quite the fan of discography posts. In this case, however, we are going to focus on a specific album from the band One 4 One. Primarily playing between the years 1994 and 2000, One 4 One established themselves as one of New Jersey's most reputable hardcore bands. Playing their first show (with Bulldoze) six days after forming, the band released their first demo in the summer of 1994, followed shortly after by the I Won't Lose 7" in 1995 on RPP Productions out of Belgium. Rick Ta Life at Back Ta Basics Records would release their debut full length entitled In Search Of in 1996 followed with an EP out on Time Served Records in 1998. The album we will be speaking of today, however, is the Seven Year Cicada which was released on Triple Crown Records in 1999.

While I'm definitely into all of the material released by this band, this final full length is the only album which I feel is worth posting to this blog for the sake of it's originality. For whatever reason, the band publicly disses their own work on this album, going as far as saying that they are considering mass hypnosis in order to cover up the remnants of this album. After a bit of CD layout research I managed to put together the fact that the entire line-up had moved on by the time of the release of this disc. Only the vocalist remained for this final recording and I'm sure some sort of strange feelings are tied in with this disc.

All of that being said ... this album is nearly perfect. While I will admit that the intro to the album is a bit dramatic and possibly overdone, the fact is entirely irrelevant as soon as the first track kicks in. The title track, Seven Year Cicada, literally is one of the most powerful songs I've ever heard put to tape. The opening riff is beyond words, in my opinion, and I fail to find anything worthy of comparing it to. The only thing I can possibly say is that it has a strong Arkangel feel to it while completely blowing away the previously mentioned band. Keep in mind this is coming from one of Arkangel's biggest fans of all time (yeah, I even kinda like Hope You Die By Overdose).

One 4 One seamlessly transitions into the next track which somehow manages to sound like a cross between Walls Of Jericho's debut LP combined with Every Time I Die's Burial Plot Bidding War EP. Don't ask how or why this comes to mind or is even remotely possible ... but these guys somehow managed to pull it off a few years before either of the bands I just compared them to did it. Dare I even say that Keith Buckley from ETID got his entire vocal stylings from this CD ... who knows? Crazier things have happened in the world of hardcore.

The album layout actually fucks up at this point (a true staple of this era in CD layouts) and starts giving out wrong song titles. Whatever you want to call track 4 (it's actually called Fire Walk With Me) ... it is every bit as punishing as anything Converge wrote in the 90s. Bringing to mind certain tracks from the When Forever Comes Crashing album ... this track somehow manages to knock-off Slayer in a completely 90s metalcore sounding way. This is the kind of music that I live for.

While the album was never released on vinyl, the songs that WOULD serve as the B-side are still great songs but are placed where they are for a reason. While the track What Went Wrong is one of my personal favorites, it is an older compilation track that was simply spiced up a bit for this full length. The band jumps right back into their own uniqueness however with the track When The Walls Were Closing In that opens up with a bit of an homage to the NJHC scene that produced them via an opening rap bit that would make even Ant Money proud. Tomorrow's Dawn (track 7) opens up with the infamous "When there's no more room in hell..." line from Dawn Of The Dead ... that is all that needs to be said about this track.

There's literally not enough I could say about this album to sum up my feelings on it. I'm completely dumb-founded every time I listen to it in the sense that this formerly bland NJHC group somehow managed to pull together these songs which would essentially serve as precursors to what would be the styles in which many of the biggest names in hardcore and metal today would eventually get their starts from.

Once again ... the opening riff to this album (and the entire song structure) ... holy fuck.

I'll let you know if I ever get a hold of these guys and ask what the hell they have against this album. I would also kill to know what all of the musicians who were brought in for this album went on to do musically after the dissolution of One 4 One.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

JIHAD: Old Testament

Jihad was from Kalamazoo, Michigan. They were around from 1994-1997 and released quite a few legendary 7"s alongside a monumental split LP. The music is hard to describe in any word other than "intense". There weren't really any bands playing this style prior to Jihad and there most certainly hasn't been any bands since Jihad to play anything remotely similar. Unless, of course, you count the bands that the members went on to form after the dissolution of Jihad. Even in the cases of Quixote and Sealucky, the bands took on a lighter indie rock direction and failed to incorporate the intensity found on Jihad's recordings.

The band released a discography CD of sorts in 1996 called Old Testament on the bassist's label, Makoto Records. It included the God's Forsaken People 7", the split 7" with In Ourselves, the split 12" with Ottawa, most of their comp tracks and a live recording of their set from Cleveland Fest 1995 (which fucking rules).

The Old Testament compilation CD was released simultaneously alongside a 7" of new material entitled "New Testament". This would prove to be the final recording before the band dissolved in 1997 right before they were scheduled to play the infamous Pittsburgh Fest of the same year which featured performances from Four Hundred Years, Puritan, Braid, Quixote, Judas Iscariot, and the infamous Rent America set with the worm temper tantrum.

As stated previously, the "discography" disc only included MOST of their compilation tracks. The one track it didn't include for whatever reason or another was the Longbow Project compilation 12" put out on Longbow Records (a close acquaintance of Makoto Records). I took the initiative to include a vinyl rip of this track as a special Path To Misery Blog bonus track to the Old Testament discography CD. I also chose to include scans of the God's Forsaken People 7" layout because it's just that cool. You can download all of this HERE.

Here is some live footage provided by the legendary YouTube poster "threepennie" ...

Man, this blog rules

I don't know what it is about this blog ... perhaps it's the intelligence and maturity that shines through the broken English ... but it just rules. There's no Mp3s here ... just some alternative insight on some old hardcore folktales.

Blogging A Dead Horse

Friday, June 18, 2010


I'm here to post up what I think is a discography for two amazing upstate NY metalcore bands. Lariat and At War With Shadows. While both bands have quite a similar style, AWWS leaned a bit more towards what was then a "modern sound" with Lariat taking more influence from their mid-90s predecessors. Both bands respectively released an EP as well as a split together in the early 2000s. I'm not too sure if either band ever released a demo, but I know that these are the only official releases from each band.

At War With Shadows was from Troy, NY. Seeing the release of their debut EP on Hater Of God Records, the band offered four tracks of rather ingenuous metalcore that can only be compared to the concept of From Autumn To Ashes being really, really good and axing their clean vocal parts. Regardless, At War With Shadows brings us considerably moshy metalcore with its fair share of melody and that touch of early 2000s metalcore that no one can quite describe. It was metalcore played by kids who were raised on progressive musicianship as played by bands like Aftershock, Blood Has Been Shed, Barrit and the likes.

I recently read two descriptions of Lariat and I honestly can't decide which one sums up the band more properly. The author of the Just Another Bombtrack blog described the band as Unbroken meets His Hero Is Gone meets Deadguy whereas a paper insert that just fell out of the EP from their label describes it as a mixture of Catharis, Burn It Down, and Acme. Regardless of which description fits better, I think you can imagine how good this band is.

Lariat featured ex-members of Tripface, Blood Has Been Shed and Monster X and members would later go on to form Burning Bridges and probably some of the better Albany bands happening today. While the music was as brutal and intense as anything else you've ever heard, the lyrical content of the band was the true attraction that I had to the band. "We are not immortal, this is not forever, if you knew you were dying tomorrow, how would you live today?" are the words I hear repeated in my head when I think back to their Hell Fest 2001 performance.

In a similar fashion to my If Hope Dies & Beyond Fall post I made several months back, I had the pleasure of seeing both of these bands perform at the best show of all time (aka Hell Fest 2001). It was also at this fest that I picked up all of these releases. As stated on several other blogs, the performances by these two bands were two of the more memorable sets of the weekend from such early day slots.

I say this in pretty much every other post I made but its a true shame that the metalcore genre has turned to such shit in the past decade. The musical and artistic possibilities of impassioned kids who grew up in the hardcore scene but then decided to expand their musical horizons through the practice of metal music were seemingly endless at the time and I'm quite saddened to see those possibilities thrown away at the prospect of whatever it is the bands of today are being driven by.

When I say Path To Misery is a mosh metalcore band, I have bands like the ones mentioned in this post in mind. If for some reason you're not understanding this concept yet ... watch this video of Lariat.

If anyone has any info or Mp3s of these bands' potential demos ... please get in touch.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Possibly the best blog...

Considering I'm going to be pretty tied up with getting my Pittsburgh Mosh blog off the ground over the next few weeks, I am going to strongly suggest that you check out the Christian Hardcore Records blog for, by far, the most comprehensive compilation of Christian hardcore and metalcore from throughout the 90s. Have all the opinions you want on Christianity ... but the music from that era was by far some of the best. I am really blown away by the totality of this blog. I was fairly certain that I had attained mostly everything from the genre ... but Jesus, was I wrong.

Christian Hardcore Records Blog ... tell them the Devil sent you

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My New Blog...

I'll still be updating this on the regular ... but I decided to start a blog specifically to document Pittsburgh's heavy music scene over the past three decades. I already posted up a No Retreat discography which I've been promising for this blog for quite some time. There is going to be a lot of posts on here coming up in the near future considering I just loaded this blog with discographies for Catharis, Maroon, and All Else Failed.

Check it out HERE.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

xMAROONx: Discography

This is a post on a band that helped change my life. While Earth Crisis were obviously the first band to open my eyes to the atrocities of the slaughterhouse and were the main reason I turned to vegetarianism in 2001 (along with the lyrics to Poisoned Seeds by Buried Alive), for whatever reason I was lacking the final push into veganism. There were two factors playing into this as well: Arkangel's spoken word track on Prayers Upon Deaf Ears EP and the intensity of the gang chants in Still Believe What Has Fallen Apart on Maroon's Antagonist album. Plain and simple ... I wanted to be able to sing along to "a commitment for life ... VEGAN!!!".

Forming in Germany in the late 90s, Maroon released their debut EP in 2000 on Kerosene Recordings. Featuring six tracks (one of which would be re-recorded for the Antagonist album), this EP set the tone for what would be expected from the band from that point on: metallic hardcore from Germany. Not unlike their counterparts in Arkangel, Maroon was very centered in their vegan straight edge beliefs and were quite vocal about said issues. Both the Captive In The Room In The Conspirator EP AND the split release with Self-Conquest feature a rather lengthy writing explaining the band's stance on the militancy of their cause.

While "The Key" (the split with Self-Conquest) was released in 2002 after their debut EP in 2000, it featured older material that was recorded between 1998 and 2000. Self-Conquest were pretty similar in style despite not being as good (which is why the post is not about them). Upon listening closely to this split album featuring early Maroon material, one can hear quite a few Arkangel riffs spread throughout. Specifically, the riff at 2:18 into The Second When We Kiss essentially being the same riff as on From Heaven We Fall by Arkangel.

It was after these two releases that Maroon would release the classic album, Antagonist. Seeing its release in the United States by Catalyst Records, the album would go on to become a sort of cult-classic amongst an already obscure vegan straight edge scene. Despite the band never making a trip to the United States for a tour, the album has managed to go to press at least two times over this way.

While one could probably find a copy of Antagonist with a few minutes of online browsing (and I'd highly recommend doing so), tracking down physical discs of the debut EP or split is next to impossible. I had been looking for these album since I was first introduced to the band in 2002 to no avail. I'm a pretty resourceful guy yet came up with nothing. As mentioned in an earlier post, Keith from Hell Fest's CD collection was essentially donated to this blog and I managed to find copies of both discs within the crates given to me. Back when I would talk shit on Arkangel with one of the Maroon members on AIM in 2003, he informed me that they would fly over every year for Hell Fest and would give Keith copies of their albums and beg him to let them play to no avail. Eight years down the road, I would end up with these actual copies of their CDs that were being referenced in our conversation; proving that the earth is a very small place.

I consider this to be the xMaroonx discography due to the band deciding to drop the X's after the release of the monumental Antagonist album. All of their post-2002 albums on Century Media are obviously still in production and readily available. I haven't really kept track since the Endorsed By Hate album but have heard random tracks here and there that seemed to range anywhere from random black metal riffs to epic power metal-styled clean vocals ... who knows?

I want to say that some sort of sincerity leaks through this early material that wasn't there on a lot of other xVx albums coming out at the time, but I don't even know if this is true; especially knowing the current status of the band. There are a million different rumors concerning the band's current stance on veganism and straight edge, but I personally don't care at this point. At the end of the day, they wrote an awesome vegan sing-a-long anthem that totally brought me into the struggle and that's all that really matters upon looking back.

DOWNLOAD - "The Key" split with Self Conquest (2000)
DOWNLOAD - Captive In The Room Of The Conspirator (2000)
DOWNLOAD - Antagonist (2003)

Monday, April 12, 2010

CATHARSIS: Discography

There is plenty of information and posts on Catharsis in the blog world, but none of them are accurate or complete. I decided to take it upon myself to amend this with an informative, sort-of-discography from this band.

Catharsis was the project of one Brian Dingledine; notorious at the time for his contributions via the Inside Front zine ... also notorious for having vocals sounding like that of "the sound of a grizzly bear being raped by a dinosaur". Starting off in 1994; the band initially leaned moreso towards the "hardcore" end of the spectrum as opposed to whatever it was they progressed into towards the end of their existence. Debuting with a two song. cassette demo entitled "Fall", the band nearly simultaneously entered Mars Studio in Cleveland, OH to put what would become their debut, self-titled 7" to tape. Not long after, Catharsis returned to the studio where they cut their initial demo to record two tracks for various compilations. 100 Years In Solitary would be featured on the Area 51 Compilation along with "holy terror contemporaries" Integrity and two others while a re-interpreted version of Confront's (pre-One Life Crew) "Our Fight" would be contributed to a compilation 7" that would be included with a copy of Brian's Inside Front zine.

All of these tracks are included on the "Eponymous" CD which essentially served as compilation of all early material from the band. Also included on this CD is a cover of Breakdown's "Sick People" which rips possibly harder than the original. This was recorded at the same time of their self-titled 7" (which was released on Endless Fight Records, btw) but was not included on said 7". I'm assuming it's from a compilation. The CD also includes the entire album being played backwards along with some special effects. Sound familiar?

The band's first official full length would be released on the newly-founded "collective" which would be known to the world as Crimethinc. Initially starting primarily as a record label, Crimethinc would go on to become a sort-of umbrella in which many of Brian's efforts would fall under. Later evolving into an "ex-worker's collective", the initiative would gain much notoriety through the publication of many standard anarchist readings such as "Days Of War, Nights Of Love", "An Anarchist's Cookbook: Recipes For Disaster" and "Expect Resistance". While also continuing in the practice of releasing albums from musical acts, the collective also currently partakes in the distribution of free literature and other paraphernalia promoting everything from gender neutrality to small-time crime to straight up arson. Crazy to see what essentially resulted from a typical 90s fanzine.

Anyhow, about Samsara (the debut full length) ... it's perfect. Featuring re-recordings of a few of the aforementioned demo, 7", and compilation tracks; the album also features several new tracks which show obvious musical and lyrical progression. I would start quoting the lyrics, but there is absolutely no reason to post a single line without posting the entire album's worth; they're that good. With several tracks that would serve as the pre-cursor to many North Carolina metalcore acts (Undying), the album pushes further into the "metalcore" realm while still maintaining the intensity incapable of being matched by the crustiest of punk bands. One can only imagine the live show.

I also included the splits recorded with Newborn and Newspeak as separate downloads. I included both sides of the split because both bands rage ALMOST as hard as Catharsis. Newborn from Hungary present three tracks that are somewhat reminiscent of what With Honor was doing towards the end of their career. Melodic, progressive hardcore that sounds somewhat inspired by Shai Hulud with the occasional batch of clean vocals. While a bit more experimental than the sometimes-standard sounding American bands of the style, Newborn definitely holds their own on this split that was released by Scorched Earth Policy out of Germany.

Newspeak was from Brazil and present 7 tracks of what would roughly be described as "screamo" if the description had to be given in one word. Screamy, fast, and thrashy tracks are put up against a three-song, live basement recording by Catharsis featuring two tracks from Samsara and a track called Unbowed. A lot of spoken word is included throughout the set. The same set of songs were originally included as part of a split with Gehenna, only to be re-released a year or two later in South America and on Crimethinc with Newspeak. While Catharsis' contribution to this split is nowhere near as poignant as the exclusive track, Arsonist's Prayer (from the Newborn split), it is still quite intriguing to hear the band's re-interpretation of older tracks.

While I wish you best of luck on finding copies of either Samsara or Eponymous (sometimes referred to as self-titled), I strongly urge you to go over to Crimethinc's site and pick up a copy of Passion while its still available. There are actually a lot of other thought-provoking albums and books on the site that are worth your time. While I'm not 100% in accordance with the outlook of Crimethinc, select readings and artists are definitely worth your time. Browse around and check for yourself.

DOWNLOAD - Eponymous
DOWNLOAD - Samsara
DOWNLOAD - Passion
DOWNLOAD - Newborn split
DOWNLOAD - Newspeak split

Thursday, April 1, 2010

ZAO: Early Demos

I've always been curious as to how certain Christian bands manage to write the most disgusting music of all time. The answer, I've realized, is that whenever you are crazy enough to believe in the lord OR the devil ... then you should probably be pronounced legally insane and, in turn, are also probably capable of writing some seriously evil music.

Putting myself in a mindset that allows me to believe that the devil is a legitmate being has made me realize how some christian bands feel so fucking motivated to write the insane music that they do. Seriously ... how the fuck did Zao write Liberate Te Ex Inferis ... and how did Disembodied come up with If God Only Knew The Rest Were Dead? By the grace of god and/or Lucifer; that's how.

As for why I'm talking about all of this; I essentially realized that a lot of my recent compositions mirror that of early Zao. I'm not talking Splinter Shards The Birth Of Separation ... I'm talking about their first two demos and split seven inches. I'm assuming that most people aren't even aware of the existence of these releases. Well, that's what I'm here for ... let me tell you all about them.

Zao's debut demo was titled "Author" and was self-released in 1994 on the almighty cassette format. Of course there were some black and white stickers of some obscure angels on the thing. To be honest, the thing sounds like dog shit and most of the songs suck. As with most of the albums I post on here, the feeling is just there. The energy seeping through the poorly played metallic riffs and dreary acoustics is what gets me. You really have to be a fan to get through this one, but if you truly are ... the gems are there to be found.

The follow-up offering was entitled "Sustained" and was actually worth pressing to a legit cassette. The progression made between 1994 and 1995 was quite noteworthy for this young Christian outfit from West Virginia. The band focused on fewer songs (5 on this one as opposed to 9 on the debut) and it apparently paid off. It wouldn't be until the release of their split with Outcast that the band would truly find its stride, however. Also released in 1995, the songs "Flight" and "Security" are light years ahead of anything found on the Sustained demo.

This split would prove to be the final recording featuring their original vocalist. Just in time for the recording of their split with Through And Through, the band happened upon the best thing that ever happened to them ... Shawn Jonas. Owning possibly the sickest vocals in hardcore at the time (and possibly even today), this guy has gone on record saying that he wanted Zao to become "the Earth Crisis of christian hardcore". This guy was not kidding around when it came to proclaiming the name of the Lord. I think the Lord, our saviour, knew this guy was going to be preaching his word because he was certainly blessed with quite a set of lungs. While Zao only got one track on this offering, Repressed (which would also be re-recorded for their debut LP, All Else Failed) makes it impression right off the bat.

The intensity of a militant Christian band from the backwoods of West Virginia in 1994 can never, and will never, be topped.