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