Agent Steel are a band
that clawed its own little niche in metal by using elements that were not
typical of the burgeoning thrash movement in 1985. My assumption is that they are one of those
love ‘em or absolutely hate ‘em bands amongst metalheads. The main reason is the polarizing vocal style
of John Cyriss. Lyrically, he
intentionally strayed from the popular Satan/violence combination that
dominated thrash and chose Sci-Fi, aliens and ancient rituals as his subject
matter which were just as dark and fit the music perfectly. Cyriss is a talented man whose vocals soar in
the Rob Halford range for the majority of this record. Now if you’re playing straight up power
metal, that vocal delivery may sit a bit more comfortably when chugging along
at a Maiden or Priest pace. But, Agent
Steel were not playing power metal; they were a full-bore thrash assault in
league with Exodus, Razor and Slayer. Skeptics
Apocalypse is fast. Very fast. Yet, it is also musically brooding and
violent, just as any thrash album worth its weight should be. The riffs and song structures are
tremendously akin to “Bonded By Blood” era Exodus and “Hell Awaits” era Slayer. Then you add in the vocals, which, to these
ears were initially a bit confusing, yet, ended up sounding exciting and
original. This record is a bulldozer. Their second record is just as good, if not
even more powerful with its superior production. Although thrash was only a few years old in
1985, Agent Steel were already a welcomed change. Like most bands, they did not get the
recognition they deserved and called it quits a few years later. Too bad.
They were on to something good.
not a ‘punker’, just a human being with the urge to exercise what’s in my heart
wrong, these are words I’ve held dear and lived by for a long time now. 7 Seconds recently announced their break-up
and it’s hit me decently hard. On one
hand, I’m saddened that I will never see another show or ever get to hear a new
record. I’m much sadder to hear that
health issues have taken this band’s 38 year career out of commission. On the other hand, I’m thankful for the time
I’ve gotten to spend with this band’s music.
music, lyrics and people of 7 Seconds are more import and significant to me
than any other band out there. I’ve
seen them live more than any other touring act.
They’ve been a personal and life-shaping experience. I could sit for hours reciting the words and
ideas of Kevin Seconds and attach them to social or situational aspects of my
life. Their influence on the way I
compose songs is glaring to the few that have heard them.
My 32-year journey with 7
Seconds began with this very record after a review I read in my now yellowing
copy of Death Row Zine from 1986. I can’t say the
review was overly glowing, but it was enough to make me check them out since I
was diving into the punk world at that time.
After listening to New Wind
over and over, I went on the search for the first two records…then the 7”s…and
then waited for every subsequent release.
Anyone who has followed 7 Seconds’ path knows there have been some
stylistic twists and turns, but, with all honesty, I can say I’ve loved close
to everything they’ve produced.
Fanboy? Yeah, probably.
saw the band make a hard pivot from their high-speed endeavors. What was unusual was that the band was only 6
years old when they made the switch to songs that were slower and more
melodic. It’s as if they knew they would
become like The Ramones if they kept going in the same direction. Let’s be honest, only The Ramones can write
the same record for 30 years and pull it off.
Only two songs on the album were reminiscent of what they previously
released. Of course, I didn’t know this
and had zero preconceived notions of what I was hearing. What I heard opened a whole new musical world
for me and, maybe for the first time, lyrics had something meaningful to say.
When I listen to New Wind
now, I get a whole different feeling than that angsty 16-year old I was previously,
who really didn’t know shit about the world.
Many of the songs were written about some pretty heavy subject matters
ranging from sexual assault, personal integrity, unity and keeping a positive
stance in a dark world, and breaking the mold of the bullshit, typical
tough-as-nails male facade. Every song
carries a message; some just aren’t as in your face as others. The music is raw but melodic and has quite a
unique sound. Not full on punk or
hardcore and not full on pop punk, but somewhere in between. As stated, 7 Second let off the gas pedal a
bit, but still retained the energy and spirit of their roots throughout the
album. They would keep evolving in this
direction until their true return to hardcore on the awesome 1999 album Good To Go.
Wind changed my world and opened my eyes and taught
me to be a thinking, aware and caring human being. It also created a life-long adoration for
this pioneering band and the droves of punk and hardcore I plunged into after the
fact. I’m guessing this is the last time
I write about this band. Thank you
Kevin, Steve, Troy, Bobby and the few other scattered members. You have given me a gift that cannot be
repaid. I wish you well in all that is
Black metal has innovated,
terrified and rebelled for close to three decades. With all due respect, credit and love to
Bathory, Venom, Hellhammer and NME, I’m speaking of the 2nd wave of
Norwegian and Swedish bands that, literally, lit the world aflame around
1990. The sound of those grim, cold,
unrelenting pioneers has now been duplicated, emulated and transformed. As the music spread and gained popularity,
which was most likely unintended, bands from all over the globe conjured their
version of what could be considered the world’s most extreme, dark and
dangerous music. With that said, black
metal became a true example of quantity over quality and has sent listeners
down endless rabbit holes searching for bands worthy of their time. Occasionally a band claws its way to the top
of the pile of enemy corpses to bring you something new and unique. One of these bands is Bloodline and their
album is Hate Procession.
Bloodline strays far from the cold, cave-like
sound and rabid velocity of the early masters, yet, retains the abhorrent anti-human
nature of those bands. They move at a
non-typical, sludgy pace that feels like trying to trudge through a murky swamp
while being strangled; you want to move faster, but you cannot, which is the
torturous glory of this record. It’s an
uncomfortable listen. Bloodline is smart and keep things simple. The instrumentation is bulldozing but layered
with smatterings of samples and keyboards to avoid a one-dimensional feel. The vocals sound certifiably insane, are
devoid of any positive emotion and are composed with pure conviction. It has been a long time since I’ve witnessed
such a pulverizing and abusive vocal performance that grows stronger as the
album plays. When the album finishes, an
overwhelming sense of despair and hopelessness exists. Once again, it’s an uncomfortable
listen. I believe that was the overall purpose
of this album. This is life-draining
So many extreme musicians wish they could muster
the ugliness that Low Places achieved on this recording. Numerous bands
try sounding down and dirty by overloading the distortion and aggression, but
just don’t have it in their hearts. There’s something about Low Places
that makes you know they cannot sound any other way even if they tried.
They mangle the listener with 6 intense, hideous compositions that weave
between all out thrash and swamp-filled sludge in a short, painful, 11
minutes. Sometimes ugly is a beautiful thing.
I recall learning
of Hazel through a glowing review in a magazine.I can’t remember what the reviewer
specifically said to make me go buy Toreador
Of Love without hearing a single note off of it, but I’m sure the fact that
the record was on Sub Pop helped persuade me toward the purchase.Whatever it was, I’m glad I took a chance
because this is power pop gem hidden inside a dirty, gritty exterior.
Hazel has a
few traits on this record that make them a standout from the ocean of
indie/alternative bands from the 90s that played endlessly on MTV and FM radio.First, they present a more aggressive drive
than their peers; a lot more Pixies and a lot less Oasis.The loud-quiet-loud rules are in effect for
much of this record.They’re not afraid
to cause a raucous in all the right places while still maintaining their
catchy, rough-around-the-edges melodic sensibility.Second, there’s an imperfect nature to this
record that creates intensity, urgency and honesty.Jack Endino deserves gigantic kudos for not
cleaning up Hazel’s playing and made sure their true sound hit tape.Third, the lyrics play out like a high school
drama, but are insanely relatable and heartfelt.When filtered through Pete Krebs’s vocals and
the unpolished nature of Jody Bleyle’s
harmonies, a natural tension is created and makes the subject matter instantly
memorable. Much like many of their Sub
Pop brethren, Hazel were not virtuosos on their instruments, but used their
talent to their fullest extent to write memorable, ardent songs that sound true
Hazel came and went in what felt like flash. Their 4-year tenure produced 2 full length
records and a slew of 7”s. To my dismay,
I do not like their sophomore effort very much, which is just fine because it creates
some extra room to listen to Toreador Of
This is punk rock. Beige Eagle Boys do not give one
fuck and do exactly what they want to unsuspecting listeners. They are
noisy, brash, ugly and unapologetically individualistic. They take what
turbulent pioneers such as Hammerhead and The Cherubs blueprinted years ago and
add their own unhealthy dose of unhinged disquiet and overblown tones to the
mix. Another great release on the fearless Reptilian Records label.
There is only so much you
can say about an album like this.Within
the first 30 seconds, you will absolutely know if this record is for you due to
the instantaneous bashing your ears take.Either you’re a punk or you’re not with this one, because there is not
straying between genres, no experimentation, and not a doubt what type of band
Blood Pressure is.What you get is around
13 minutes of brutal, wall-shaking hardcore punk and nothing else; which is
exactly what I love about this band and record.Their overpowering style lies in the land of Poison Idea, Tied Down-era Negative Approach and
Wolfbrigade.I swear your speakers
have a chance to catch on fire while this is playing!Blood Pressure is the band you want to see in
a crowded basement as they whip everything into a fucked up, sweat-filled frenzy.
Horror themes and punk have always seemed like a no-brainer
combination. The brothers Calabrese have taken their love of Misfits and
the best era of AFI and created an extremely impressive record.
Everything is spot when it comes to performance and delivery. The songs
are pure driving energy from start to finish with the vocals being the
strongest facet of the album, showcasing the talent these guys possess.
In no time they will have you singing about cemeteries, ghouls, love and death
while this incredible record rocks on. This may be the best release of
horror themed punk since Walk Among Us. No joke.
Artist: Hex Bombs Album: “Everything Earned" Year: 2014 Genre: Punk Admittedly, working class punk is not my
generally listen to the plight of the laboring women and men within the
Oi! side of punk rock. With that said, Hex Bombs are so good
and so infectious that I can’t help but love their street dog mentality and
anthem-driven approach. They are one of these bands that play all the right
things; not necessarily original, but they show a vibrant spirit and
energy. Hex Bombs are a
breath of fresh air in a genre that can get boring and cliché very
Paranoia is an under-the-radar gem
in the musical concoction known as crossover.
This era of Attitude Adjustment saw
the band wading heavily in the hardcore punk end of the crossover pool, but the
velocity and intensity the band generated would send the run-of-the-mill punker
running. They had much more in common
with speedsters like Cryptic Slaughter, Septic Death, Beyond Possession and
Crumbsuckers than with even the most gnarly hardcore in the mid 80s. Attitude Adjustment were like a punch to a
raw nerve. Although the tempos on this
record may be typical of extreme music in 2018, it definitely was not in
1986. Fast and faster were the rules
for this record, as the listener only gets moments of any normal tempo before
they’re off the races again. Andy “Airborne”
spewed his words and touched on world issues, addiction and realistic fears of
war at an inhuman pace. I always feel a tinge
of disappointment listening to this album since the things he was saying 30+
years ago are still highly relevant in the United States today. Yet, those feelings are easily overcome
because the album just makes you want to thrash around like a manic. Ahh, to be 15 again. While American Paranoia isn’t the
absolute, quintessential crossover record, it is a heavy hitter of blasting,
Due to the game-changing nature of this record, I have a clear
recollection of how Terrorizer entered my life.
From the years 1988 to about 1991 I was in total music annihilation mode
and only trying to find the most devastating sounds on earth related to heavy
music. Mostly, this introduced me to death metal
bands that were really pushing boundaries of the genre. Lucky for me, Earache, Peaceville, Nuclear
Blast, Wild Rags and a few other record labels were also interested in the same extreme
music adventure. This search led me to
my go-to store (which I’ve worked at in some capacity to this day since 1992)
and to a guy that was well ahead of me finding new bands. I specifically remember entering the shop,
him seeing me and calling me over to the “T” section of the cassettes. Before I could see any title, I had
Terrorizer’s World Downfall in my
hand. He did a little up-sell with very
few phrases which contained things like, “Pete from Morbid Angel is the
drummer,” and “It’s the fastest heaviest album ever.” OK.
Sold. My crappy car had a good
cassette player (that shit was important) so I instantly popped in the
tape. 18 year old me was not ready for
what came out of the speakers.
At this time, I had very little experience with true
grindcore. I had heard the first two
Napalm Death full lengths and I sort of liked them; but sort of didn’t. Grindcore was new at the time and it took a
little bit to process what was happening.
When World Downfall kicked in,
I was expecting another extreme death metal record. I was dead wrong. Instantly I heard thrash-punk rhythms which morphed
into the most furious and crushing blast parts that just sound like insanity
being put to tape. I remember being baffled once again as to whether this was good or just noise.
Another listen to the whole album laid my confusion to rest, and ever
since then, World Downfall has not
only been in consistent rotation, but also had a powerful influence on songs I would write in the future. This album scorches
the earth all the way through and does not let up. Ever.
The Discharge-inspired lyrics are barked out perfectly for this record
as Oscar Garcia’s use of short, sharp grunting outbursts create and intensity
not heard on a record to that point. There
are blast beats for days, but they manage to break it up with circle pit
inducing tempo changes that generally lead you right back into grinding
chaos. If being brutal was Terrorizer’s
goal, they achieved it in droves. The
production is primitive enough to drive the music, but clear and dry enough
that nothing gets too lost; even when the band is travelling at lightspeed. This album was a gauntlet thrown down to all
others challenging their peers to be as extreme, heavy, fast and destructive as Terrorizer were.
Downfall brought things to light and made me understand what Carcass,
Napalm Death, Repulsion and Siege had been creating. Now and again I’ll see that former employee,
whom I now call a friend, and every single time I will thank him for
introducing me to the what I believe is the best and most important grindcore