Saturday, January 18, 2014

THROWDOWN: Intolerance

The following post is sure to be an unbearable combination of ranting and writing stream of consciousness. If you want to hear the new album ... scroll to the bottom. No, I'm not posting this for download ... the whole thing is available to stream! If that's not a kind enough gesture for a band on a major label ... I don't know what is.

So we're all getting old (why else would you be reading this blog?) and, personally, it's becoming more and more rare for me to get excited for New Releases. In the rare event that I DO make a trip to the record store to browse a section other than the $1 used bin ... it's probably to pick up a new release from an old favorite. In 2014, that first trip was in order to obtain the new Throwdown release, "Intolerance".

While most people were STOKED on getting their hands on the leaked Mp3s for free, I greased some palms at an un-named record store to get my hands on this a few days early. Varying levels of dedication to bands one likes, I suppose. I digress. After listening through the album a few times, however, I'm glad I put in the effort that I did.

You may or may not be aware that I am a huge mark for the preceding Throwdown album, Deathless (you know ... that album that was too ungodly perfect for Joe Beatdown to comprehend).  While I understand why that album didn't exactly strike a chord with the "hardcore scene", I also find it hard to grasp why kids are so quick to turn a blind eye to a band on the whole simply because they aren't fans of the most recent release. I could assuredly continue on with this rant but I'm trying to put this new album over as opposed to going off about fairweather music fans.

Roughly two years ago when I had the pleasure of being on the road with a tour package that Throwdown was headlining, I willingly punished Dave with questions as to when the new album would be out, what to expect from it and whether or not there were even plans for it. I remember him telling me it would be reminiscent of some earlier material as opposed to the direction they started heading in on the Deathless album. Despite the fact that I've listened to "old" Throwdown to the point where I have the entire discography memorized, I was kinda bummed in the sense that I really liked where Throwdown was heading.

You see, one of my pet peeves is when a very small percentage of very vocal kids manage to skew public opinion by utilizing tactics out of their Joseph Goebbels handbooks.  An even bigger pet peeve of mine is when a band actually beckons to the demands of said social networking warriors. Needless to say, I found myself worrying that I would be presented with merely a watered-down version of something that I'm not sure could or should be re-created outside of 2003.

So, as previously mentioned, I've been a fan of everything Throwdown has done. I'm actually even fine with the Face The Mirror EP at times (especially when I compare it to modern mosh bands). What I'm trying to say is that while I love Haymaker ... I was really hoping that the new album wouldn't sound like Haymaker.

While I CAN draw certain comparisons to the Venom & Tears album, Intolerance stands on its own feet. Whereas Venom & Tears was typically described as "a hardcore Pantera" ... Intolerance will surely grab similar comparisons due to Dave Peters being one of the only frontmen in hardcore with an actual vocal range (hence a comparison to Phil Anselmo/Pantera). Intolerance takes on a more methodical, riff-driven approach a-la Crowbar while simultaneously reverting to a more obvious lyrical approach to Straight Edge. In fact, I think the actual term "Straight Edge" is used 5-10 times on the album. If that doesn't get a pop from the fanbase of old, I'm not sure what will.

Overall, the album is a solid return to the "roots" of Dave Peters-era Throwdown ... and that's not a Sepultura pun (that aspect of influence is mostly gone from this release). Intolerance finds itself in familiar area for the band while adding a touch of modernity via one of the thicker sounding recordings I've heard in a while. Lyrically, Peters re-focuses on the Straight Edge message that they were once synonymous with.

Personal favorite tracks include the leading "single" Avow, Defend With Violence, Cut Away, Suffer Conquer and Intolerance. OK ... that's about half of the album.

The point is ... you should pick this album up. I mean legitimately buy it. I know you're used to hearing bands give you the green light from stage to download their music because they're not going to see any royalties from it ... and that may be true ... but showing your support by giving them a strong opening week sales is the hardcore equivalent of the "You Still Got It" chant.

It comes out on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

BURN IT DOWN: Discography

How have I yet to post a Burn It Down discography? Ever since my first time seeing them when they replaced Walls Of Jericho for the opening slot on the Earth Crisis/In Flames tour they have served as one of the most influential bands on my writing style. Their influence can be heard loud and clear on the Path To Misery self-titled full length.

The band got their start in 1997 with the release of a 4 song 7" on Uprising Records. While not having the typical sound of the label at the time, one can assume the connection could be linked to certain members' former "hardline" association; Uprising Records, of course, being operated by former Vegan Reich frontman and "father of hardline" Sean Muttaqui. This early material was quite raw in its nature and while the intensity was present, the progressiveness they would later become known for had yet to take precedent. I mean ... compared to Blood For Blood this 7" is paradise, I'm simply saying that the band had yet to come into form.

Here is some footage of this early material

While the debut 7" served mostly as a demo which would have 3 of its 4 tracks reworked for their follow-up EP, the intensity laid on tape would set the pace for what the band had in store for the year 1998. Taking notice of the happening in Indianapolis, IN, Escape Artist Records had the foresight to release the monumental Eat. Sleep. Mate. Defend. EP. The band would tour in support of this EP with another band who was both experimenting in their own spirituality while simultaneously being at the pinnacle of their career, Zao.

Speaking of spirituality, I'll always remember the lyrics to the aforementioned EP as being some of the few that spoke to me at the time (on the subject). My big falling out with religion was coincidentally coinciding with my deep-end dive into hardcore. While I would still throw a few pit moves for No Innocent Victim or Born Blind or whoever ... I took them all with a grain of salt. The lyrics to Burn It Down's opening track on Eat. Sleep. Mate. Defend. (Kill Their Idols), however, specifically sticks out in my mind as a song dealing with a spiritual view of the world without coming off as preachy or overbearing. While I can't speak for any of the intended meanings of the lyrics, they seemed to be representative of many of those who were transitioning at the time from a "hardline" past to a seemingly "Christian" future. Strange in a way/making sense in another. I digress.

Clocking in at under 15 minutes, the sophomore EP let "the scene" know both that they meant business and what they had in store for the near-future. As with most bands that were garnering attention at the time, Trustkill Records would step in for the release of their next offering in the form of a split with another quintessential Path To Misery influence, Racetraitor. It would be in the year of 1999 that Burn It Down would rightfully take their place amongst the top of the metalcore scene of the time. Playing every fest from Krazy Fest to Hell Fest along with their summer tourmates, Cave In, the stage was now set for Burn It Down to release a debut full length.

Up until this point in time, Burn It Down had yet to have a release clock in at over 15 minutes. While each release contained a presence yet to be matched to this day, there seemed to be somewhat of a limit placed on the full musical range of the band. With the songs typically lasting an average of a minute and a half, there was an apparent realm that had yet to be fully explored by the band. Let The Dead Bury The Dead would change all of that.

Still, to this day, I have yet to find the words to describe the band's one and (unfortunately) only full length offering. In the rare event that I am unable to draw a comparison to anything else happening in aggressive music at the time (and even over a decade later) ... well, that probably means it's one of my favorite albums. While not missing a step in the realm of aggression, the full length manages to also branch out into the what the band had so obviously been grasping at for three years prior. Clean vocals are far from absent and the presence of verse-chorus-verse-chorus song structures are quite apparent, yet, like I said, the aggression of their earlier material was still front and center on this release. I actually specifically remember the band starting off their set with the opening track, Ten Percent Of The Law, and being amazed when the break hit at about a minute and a half into the song/set.

Rare video evidence of their superiority can be witnessed here...

With the album only being released earlier that year, Burn It Down would officially call it quits on November 30th, 2000. Fortunately they were coaxed into performing a final set at Hell Fest 2001 alongside Earth Crisis at what would turn out to be the absolute best concert I ever attended.

I can't remember the specifics but the members were also involved in other Indianapolis projects such as Harakiri, The Gates Of Slumber and some others that aren't coming to mind at the time. For a band to be around for such a short time with such a minimal amount of music to be written, it is unheard of to have the impact that Burn It Down did.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

KRUTCH: Discography

I was recently requested to post a Krutch discography. I could have sworn I already had done so but apparently I was mistaken. So here it is ... the long-overdue Krutch post.

There's a lot I could say about this band but in summary, they have essentially built the eastern PA hardcore scene from the ground up, Krutch will always be synonymous with the term PAHC.

Here is a bio that I found on some random Geocities or Tripod site that is somehow still up. I'll throw in some notes at the end.

"KRUTCH, the undisputed kings of Pennsylvania hardcore, got started in late ´89 the original members being Karl, Sal, Richie, Cheez, & Below. Sal would eventually join the U.S. Navy, leaving the remaining four to maintain Krutch. This original line-up never seriously recorded (other than a demo in 1989 which is unfortunately not included in this upload) and it wasn’t until late ´93 that their first demo Stand Strong, Stand Alone was complete.

In 1995 Krutch´s second demo "Wheeruat" would be released, although it had only three songs it was received very well in the hardcore scene, this release showcased the true-to-life lyrics over Krutch´s trademark sound of low tuning and intense drum work. With this line-up around ´96 they released their split 7” with Surrounded on Back Ta Basics Rec. This was B.T.B.’ 2nd release and made both, the band and label, household names. Krutch’s next release Brotherhood - Sisterhood mcd would be on the European label R.P.P. It included their second demo and their two songs off their split 7”. Soon after Krutch released another split 7” on the french label Inner Rage Records and with the French band Stormcore. By this time, Krutch collaborated with Rick Healey of 25 Ta Life and Pepi Rodreguiz of Livin Proof to start the side project Comin Correct, with whom they have toured in Europe, Japan and of course the U.S.

Krutch continued and stayed busy with playing where ever they could in the U.S. but mainly East Coast and Midwest. They played tons of shows with Madball, Biohazard, Life of Agony, Kreator, Downset, Dog Eat Dog etc. in the legendary clubs like ´The Rat` in Boston, ´CBGB’s` in NYC, and ´The Pipeline` in wonderful Newark N.J. But on a regular basis the line-up would be with the likes of 25 Ta Life, Fury Of V, V.O.D. or Bulldoze.

Around ´97 Krutch released their debut full-length album Now the Tables Turn on the underground B.T.B. label. The band was not fully satisfied with the recording, but nevertheless the CD was highly acclaimed worldwide. Then one of the founding members Cheez would call the quits. Krutch being no stranger to line-up changes quickly recruited Simon from a local punk-hardcore band called Feeble. With this line-up they toured Europe playing in major clubs as well as squats. They played Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Belgium, and France.

After the European tour Krutch released another split 7” The Few The Deep with Simon´s defunct band Feeble. Soon Simon had a kid, then the singer Karl had a kid, so Krutch took long time-off to record a full-length entitled I'll See You In Hell. Richie joined Mushmouth just to keep playing during the break.

Now, on the brink of the new millenium, Krutch is ready for the crushin comeback and claim their place on the top of the whole hardcore game. They just released the 2nd album Our Thing - the Mafia Years 89-99 (on Cartel Records). This 12-song cd contains brand-new material and all their hard-to-find tracks re-mastered. Produced by HoyaRoc of Madball. Krutch European tour in Spring 2000."

The previously mentioned album is actually mostly a collection of the material spoken of in this bio. Our Thing: The Mafia Years contains one song from the 89 demo, none of the 93 demo, the entire 95 demo, their contributions to the splits with Surrounded, Feeble and Stormcore (thanks to me adding on the one track from the Stormcore split which was not included on the actual disc), their cover of As One from the Raybeez Tribute, one track from the Now The Tables Turn album and two new songs which would also be re-recorded for the follow-up full length, I'll See You In Hell (BFL & W.O.T.).

I'll See You In Hell was a full length album released in 2000 on Back Ta Basics which would feature the band starting to progress into the realm of acoustic numbers at almost every other track. While a solid offering in it's own right, I was always moreso impressed with their 5 tracks from the No Retreat split CD that was released almost simultaneously. This could potentially just be nostalgia considering No Retreat was by far my favorite band at the time, but these five Krutch tracks hit hard, fast and simple as opposed to the full length that takes place over the course of 18 tracks!

Noteworthy mention: I actually was listening to this No Retreat/Krutch split so often that one of the Krutch riffs accidentally ended up in one of the songs I had written for my band at the time, Down To None. I knew the riff was too good/wigger-ish for anything I had written on my own and was, in turn, super self-conscious about the track. Well, the day before we played it out for the first time in front of all the BFL guys it hit me where the riff came from. I thought for sure we would be fed to the pigs after the show and begged my band to re-learn the song but they weren't having it. Luckily my 15 year old perception of hardcore reality was a bit skewed and no one seemed to notice/care. If memory serves me correctly it may have been the riff that set the pit off for the night. Go figure.

Another possibility as to why the split with No Retreat stuck out to me as being more vital than the I'll See You In Hell full length was the gradual addition of Mad Joe Black into the vocal position. While I had been quite a fan of the original vocalist Karl, there's just something that sticks about Jothum's vocals which is hard to explain yet can be largely attributed to the current success of Wisdom In Chains; the band that essentially rose from the ashes of Krutch after their dissolution in 2002/2003.

By the time their next full length was ready for release, Mad Joe had unofficially (or maybe officially) seemed to become a second vocalist for the band. Whatever It Takes would be released on I Scream Records out of Belgium and quickly became my new favorite album from the band. It would be not long after the release of this album that the band would go on what would end up being a last hurrah of shows in America which were mostly shows with the then-newly reformed Integrity & One Life Crew ... which also featured a stop at the three-car-garage venue I was running at the time called The Planet Of The Apes. Having the PAHC Legends in my hometown of Natrona Heights, PA was quite the validation in my 16 year old eyes.

Not long after, the band seemed to fade out of the public eye and seemingly made way for their two fast-rising side projects by the names of Boxcutter and Wisdom In Chains. While the first Boxcutter EP was initially intended to be released AS Krutch, the creation of the new super-group came out of necessity in order to avoid label contractual issues. This band would later go on to take more of a rap element and would become a project of wig-bop dreams.  Wisdom In Chains was almost simultaneously being put together by a backing band from Belgium who recruited Mad Joe for his already-legendary vocal talents. With their debut almost actually being an international endeavor, this project would soon find itself becoming a seemingly continuation of the eastern PA legends of Krutch.

All-in-all Krutch stands as the pioneers of the PAHC scene whos members still, to this day, continue to keep the ball rolling in their part of the state. Whether it be through labels, venues, bands or simply supporting the scene in general ... Krutch's main legacy will serve as being the backbone of PAHC. And somehow ... despite having some of the absolute worst album layouts and recording qualities known to man ... I always find myself reaching for some Krutch discs when I feel like reliving the glory days of PAHC.

PS - If anyone has the full 1989 Demo to share ... that would be awesome.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

EMBODYMENT: Discography

You may or may not be aware that Embodyment is sick. With a catalog ranging from death metal to alternative rock ... these guys cover most of the bases that I'm into.

Starting in 1993 the band would release three different demos over the course of three years; all with a Living Sacrifice-influenced death metal sound. Solid State Records would later re-release these in CD format along with two previously-unreleased pre-production tracks for songs off of their monumental debut full length, Embrace The Eternal.

Well, when I say "monumental" I mean in terms of how good it was ... most certainly not in terms of how many people got into it. Despite the album blowing away mostly everything else coming out at the time (1998) I'm fairly certain it made little to no waves outside of the Christian scene. Despite the crossover success of Where Blood And Fire Bring Rest by Zao (most certainly an influence on this Embodyment album as well), Christian bands were still mostly secluded to their own scene at the time. I'll put it to you this way, I had to buy this album at Family Christian Bookstores as opposed to Jamey Jasta's distro.

As previously mentioned, this album was a turning point for the band as the songs took a definite influence from Zao's most recent endeavor (which changed heavy music as a whole, by the way). While the band was progressing more towards a "metalcore" sound as evidenced on their demo collection, the difference heard between the pre-production versions recorded BEFORE the release of Zao's pinnacle album and the album versions recorded AFTER the release of said album is quite obvious.

This is not to discredit Embodyment as much as it is to illustrate the impact that Where Blood And Fire Bring Rest had on (especially) the Christian hardcore scene. I would've stepped my game up after the release of that album as well.

So anyhow, after they perfected the art of death metalcore, Embodyment went through a pretty significant line-up change and followed it up with The Narrow Scope Of Things. Never before had I heard such progression from one album to the other. We're talking brutal metalcore to alternative rock in one album flat. At the time I was pretty bummed, but looking back now I can appreciate the Lostprophets/Hoobastank transition.

Transition is the key word I'll use to describe The Narrow Scope Of Things album as that is mostly what it served in my mind. While the album has it's moments of brilliance it still shows signs of a band searching out a new sound. On their third and final full length for Solid State Records (entitled Hold Your Breath) the band reached what I consider to be their pinnacle. Any signs of aggressiveness were written out in favor of radio-worthy hooks and melodies. Well, I take that back. The album actually is quite intense and aggressive, but not in any sort of way one would expect. For whatever reason the words to describe the album aren't coming to me ... which is why you should just download and listen for yourself if you're interested in hearing a unique album.

After the release of this album (and their subsequent release from their label contract), the band would put together a promotional album in hopes of being signed to a major label. Unfortunately this never panned out for the band but fortunately for us, the tracks would later be released as the Songs For The Living album towards the end of their career. This fourth and final full length from Embodyment would serve as the completion of their journey into finding their own sound. While being somewhat comparable to the more "mature" rock bands like Jimmy Eat World, the album once again has its own sound that can't be put into words ... at least by me.

The majority of the original members of this band rejoined forces several years ago to form The Famine (which would also be released by Solid State Records). While the new project is reminiscent of the early Embodyment material ... and is quite solid for a band that formed past the year 2007 ... it doesn't quite capture the feel of the Embrace The Eternal full length. As always here at the Path To Misery blog, however, "it's still better than mostly everything else coming out these days".

Also included in this download is the bonus song from Embrace The Eternal entitled "Halo Of Winter" which was featured on the first Solid State Records compilation. Quite a rager.

Another bonus is the "Forgotten" EP which is a collection of 5 songs recorded immediately before the band separated. It had made it's way around Napster and the likes back in the day but was officially released as an iTunes EP in 2011. As with everything else the band has ever done ... it is both a solid and unique album.

DOWNLOAD - Part 1 (Demos 1993-1996 & Embrace The Eternal)
DOWNLOAD - Part 2 (The Narrow Scope Of Things & Hold Your Breath)
DOWNLOAD - Part 3 (Songs For The Living & Forgotten)

STIGMATA: Home Video

In the summer of 2003 when my band at the time (Drain This Blood) was touring ... Scotty J from Tripface, Lariat, Burning Bridges and being awesome in general put us up with not only a show but a place to stay. We stayed up most of the night torturing our bassist but when it finally time to go to sleep, we put on the Stigmata Home Video VHS. I was so delusional and tired by this point that I only really remember an opening montage with a lot of tits that looked good at the time and the video for Burning Human which featured both Harley Flannagan and a lot of insane police brutality and people dying footage.

Ten years later and I've yet to find a copy for myself. You know what that means? It's fucking rare. I only recently stumbled upon a YouTube upload of it while searching for footage of Embodyment playing their death metal material. Funny how the world works sometimes. Anyhow, I strongly suggest watching this if you're looking for the hardcore version of the Pantera Home Video.

Unfortunately it starts skipping around a bit during Part 2 (the good part!!!) but this is far from a complaint as I empathize with any and all YouTube uploaders as I'm currently putting my entire collection up for viewing as well. Shout out to user Chuck AD ... I suggest checking out his other videos if you're interested in seeing some wild Zao, Santa Sangre, Godbelow, A Death For Every Sin or A Perfect Murder footage.

Thanks for giving me access to viewing something I've been searching out for over 10 years!

PS - I'm still looking for a hard copy of this ... hit me up if you're looking to sell!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

CRAIG: Discography

I believe it was Thrash Bash 2000 in Erie, PA when I first saw/heard of these guys. If I am somehow mistaken, then it was Hell Fest 2001 but I'm doubting that. I honestly don't have much info on this band. They were from Long Island, NY with a sound somewhere between From Autumn To Ashes and Poison The Well's at the time. At times there are even nods to a simplified Candiria sound. To be blunt, however, there's nothing extremely original happening here and the recording is considerably mediocre even for its time.

The moral of the story: it's still better than most "metalcore" coming out today. If nothing else, the songs have the slightest hint of emotion and creativity in them. More than I can say for anything in this realm that's come out in the past 5-8 years. All it would take is for someone to grab these songs, clean them up, produce them a little and sell them to some boys with cute hair and kids would think it was somehow revolutionizing music. 

The only releases from this band I am aware of is a 5 song demo which I picked up when I first saw them in 2000/2001 and a following split with the band In Pieces which featured 4 new songs along with 1 re-recorded (and improved) track from the demo. While I am personally partial to the debut demo, the split is decent in its own right. It was released on Purity Records which mostly released melodic/experimental metalcore from the northeast area. Nothing much came of the releases and I believe the "biggest" thing the band may be known for was taking Between The Buried And Me on their first tour. In fact, they tried to smuggle BTBAM onto Hell Fest 2001 via a split set (there's something you just don't see any longer). They got into some serious heat with KEITH IN HELL over that power move. A true sign of metalcore brotherhood ha!

I'd be curious to hear what preceded this band or what the members went onto after.