Artist:  Chelsea Wolfe
Album: Hiss Spun
Year:  2017
Genre:  Alternative / Doom / Gothic

I fiercely dove into the world of Chelsea Wolfe around three years ago and have not come back up for air since.  Her wonderful album Pain Is Beauty instantly drew me into her doom-laden, dispirited shoegaze, quasi-goth-industrial web.  From that moment began the conquering of her previous catalogue and the anticipated wait for new material.  Since that time, two of her best records have been unleashed upon the world in 2015’s Abyss and the relatively new Hiss Spun.  Although her other works hinted at her potential, the last two records see Ms. Wolfe truly forging an individualistic approach that leads listeners down a twisted, bleak tunnel of experimentally pensive instrumentation and beautifully solemn vocals. 

With each album, Chelsea Wolfe’s songwriting becomes more chaotic, extreme and abstruse, but she never loses sight of her mission.  She and her band flow between jarring, Melvins-heavy dirges into minimalistic, captivating elegies.  The whole album is laced with power and beauty.  If you listen closely, the complicated nature of the composition shines through, and with metal/hardcore master Kurt Baulou on the production end of things, the tones are abrasive and imposing.  This is not a typical singer-songwriter album and has dynamics for days.  I’ve read elsewhere in many publications calling this a metal record, and I could not disagree more.  This record does get heavy, much more that her previous recordings, but there is just a different feel in the same way bands like Tool, Nine Inch Nails or Deftones use a heavier, more aggressive sound.  This is up there for top album of the year for me.  Siouxsie Sioux,  Diamanda Galas, Gitane DeMone and Eva O need to move over and make some room for Chelsea Wolfe.

Listen to "16 Psyche" here.


KARMA TO BURN - Almost Heathen / Wild Wonderful Purgatory

Artist: Karma To Burn 
Album:  Almost Heathen / Wild Wonderful Purgatory
Year:  2001 / 1999
Genre: Sabbath Rock

I hate the word “stoner.” There’s no connotation of the word I like; but I especially hate it when it’s used for music. Instead of Stoner Rock, I’d rather just call it Sabbath Rock, since what these "stoner rock" bands create is so firmly rooted in the blueprint created by Black Sabbath.  Karma To Burn are the ultimate riff machine in my newly coined Sabbath Rock genre. With these two albums, they put on a clinic of how to write a heavy groove that will get your head moving up and down. Although an instrumental band, they keep the listener’s attention with their bulldozing, no bullshit, riff-above-everything-else approach. Highly (pun sort of intended) recommended! 

Listen to "Thirty Four" here.


Video Mix Tape 02

Video Mix Tape 02
0:00  Cactus
3:16  Unsane
6:52  The Freeze
10:20  Icicle Works
14:07  Bathory
16:39  Condemned 84
20:00  Skinny Puppy
24:09  Guns Up
25:46  Leatherface
28:25  Catherine Wheel


WE ARE HEX - Bleach Brigade

Artist:  We Are Hex
Album: Bleach Brigade
Year:  2014
Genre:  Post-Punk

We Are Hex are the best new band I’ve heard in years.  They crushed me at a music fest we had in Detroit a few years ago and ended up stealing the whole 3-day event from some pretty established acts.  Their releases do a wonderful job catching their off-kilter approach to post-punk.  Yep, the slight Siousxie and Bauhaus overtones are present, but there’s an adventurous, creative element this band has developed that sets them miles apart from their modern contemporaries.  It’s inspiring and exciting to hear bands take musical risks.  I cannot recommend this band enough.

Listen to "Tongues" here. 
(sorry...had to load up a song from a single from the same year as this album since there isn't
one fucking song off "Bleach Brigade" on YouTube that isn't live)



Artist:  Deathspell Omega
Album: Paracletus
Year:  2010
Genre:  Black Metal

This French band’s boundaries are seemingly limitless so describing them is a daunting task.  Deathspell Omega are vastly creative entity leading the black metal genre into uncharted territories.  I look at them as if they are an extremely talented, traditional, cold Norwegian black metal band who was structurally influenced by The Locust or Botch.  They deliver uncustomary riffs and startling, jarring changes on top of their diabolic sound.  The talent level in this band is astounding.  You would never call this band progressive rock, but if you break down their unconventional way of doing things, that’s exactly what they are.  With preeminent bands like DSO, Spektr, Alcest and Blut Aus Nord, France is the country to watch.

Listen to "Abscission" here.


Video Mix Tape 01

Video Mix Tape 01
0:00  Blood Brothers
2:20  Alice In Chains
6:10  Joe Jackson
9:18  Paris
11:51  Die Kreuzen
12:50  Killing Joke
17:32  Red Rockers
19:45  Acid Bath
24:27  Kill Creek
28:45  Sweet


HALLOWS EVE - Tales Of Terror

Artist:  Hallows Eve
Album: Tales Of Terror
Year:  1985
Genre:  Thrash Metal

Second tier, second generation thrash that shows the unstable, maturing state of metal in 1985.  Bands took cues from Slayer, Metallica, etc., and often yielded uneven results.  Hallows Eve is the perfect example of an uneven melange of both writing and quality.  The album instantly rips with the best song they ever penned in “Plunging To Megadeath” and creates the illusion of greatness to come.  What you get is a band that didn’t consistently achieve the devastating sounds they were capable of generating.  Surprisingly, each album followed the same unbalanced path; songs you love and others that make you wonder why you’re spending time listening to them and not to “Reign In Blood” for the 200th time.  Check it out, but not essential.

Listen to "Plunging To Megadeath" here.


CAST ASIDE - The Struggle

Artist:  Cast Aside
Album: The Struggle
Year:  2004
Genre:  Hardcore

Although I fell out of love with metallic tough guy hardcore ages ago, I still check out new bands from time to time, and occasionally something comes along that catches me the right way.  “The Struggle” by Richmond’s Cast Aside is one of these records.  This album is ferocious.  Of course, the obvious comparisons come to mind…the first Terror record…the first Until The End full length…and the Hatebreed record of your choosing.  Cast Aside rip along with all the intensity necessary to convince anyone they are harder than you.  Do you need another one of these records?  Most likely you don’t, but if you’re looking for something to fill an aggressive void you’re having, Cast Aside will not disappoint.

Listen to "Self Destruct" here.


GRACE VANDERWAAL - Perfectly Imperfect

Artist:  Grace VanderWaal
Album: Perfectly Imperfect
Year:  2016
Genre:  Folk / Pop

I’m almost certain no one, including myself, on this planet ever thought I’d be writing about an America’s Got Talent winner.  No, Hell has not officially frozen over and pigs aren’t flying, but this is most definitely an unusual occurrence.  Just the fact that I know about someone on that decently trite piece of American television is strange, but to be a fan of anyone that Howie Mandel approves of is close to ludicrous.  Channel flipping was the cause of me finding this talented performer.  While scrolling through the piles of TV drivel one lazy night, I heard Grace VanderWaal’s voice for about three seconds and I stopped smacking the channel button.  I remember being mesmerized by her tone, tenor and masterful control of what could be the most original and sincere voice I’ve heard in a very, very long time.  Then I came to realize she was a young girl…playing a ukulele.  No backup band of professional musicians.  No background tape.  No backup singers.  No digital processing.  Just a voice, an instrument and a devastatingly impressive abundance of talent.  Upon hearing that she was the young age of 12 and that her song was an original composition, I was floored with instant admiration and respect.

It was around the first quarter of 2017 when I began wondering if anything had been going on with Miss VanderWaal.  A search on Amazon informed me that she released a digital EP called Perfectly Imperfect.  With a quick download, it was mine.  Simply stated, I was just as astonished as I was that first night in front of my television.  The EP, on the mega huge label Colombia, is comprised of five songs with this singer-songwriter’s raw capability at the helm.  She has a perfectly pitchy, scratchy tone that she is in complete command of and uses it to give every verse and chorus character and individuality.  Her words are interpersonal and real.  These are not the ramblings of a typical of a 12-year old and makes one wonder what she will compose in the future as her experience with the world expands.  She starts off with the song that hooked me in the first place, “I Don’t Know My Name.”  The song brings to mind the great singer-songwriters of the 60s as she pushes and pulls the pace adding such a human element that is absent from vast majority of pop music now.  The rest of the songs continue in the same vein, with her song “Clay” being the highlight as it has more spirit, emotion and transparency than anything I’ve heard in years.  The closing song “Gossip Girl” is the only one with any real, composed musical accompaniment with dominating and overbearing stereotypical pop percussion and keyboards.  This is the only song I don’t enjoy as much on the EP, and it is for that reason exactly.  The first four songs sound organic and innocent while “Gossip Girl” sounds pushed and as if it fell into the hands of a producer that thinks she or he knows what will sell.  Here’s hoping this gifted young lady is able to keep her vision, independence and personality in the money hungry shark tank that is Columbia Records.  Her artistry is bigger than money and should be nurtured, not manufactured.

Listen to "Clay" here.


GRIMPLE - Up Your Ass

Artist: Grimple
Album: “Up Your Ass"
Year:  1992
Genre: Hardcore Punk

When mentioning the California “Bay Area” the names Crimpshrine, Rancid, Green Day, Operation Ivy, Mr. T Experience and others start flying around.  For me, Grimple are the perfect sonic representation of Bay Area punk rock; fast, irreverent, vociferous and unrestrained.  Whenever I listen to this band, I get visions of mohawks and spikes swirling around in a small, overheated, graffiti tagged room where the band is just whipping the wall-to-wall crowd into a frenzy.  The record rarely slows down and is quite feral, but still it has plenty of hooks to grasp on to so anyone can sing right along.

Check out "Problem" here.


MASTER - Slaves To Society

Artist:  Master
Album: Slaves To Society
Year:  2007
Genre:  Death Metal

I’m not the world’s biggest Master fan.  Although I appreciate their effort, influence and longevity, they’ve never been a band I fervently look forward to hearing a new release by.  Slaves Of Society is the one album in their catalog that is the exception, and an album I listen to repeatedly.  This record always takes me of the early days of Century Media or Nuclear Blast, when death metal was more influenced Extreme Noise Terror and Discharge, just with more dirt and aggression to the mix.  The pace and relentless nature of this record is its strength.  Fast songs that are ripping, brutal and to the point, with almost all technical proficiency thrown out the window…exactly how I love my death metal.

Listen to "Slaves To Society" here.


UNCLEAN - Moloko Velocet

Artist:  Unclean
Album: Moloko Velocet
Year:  1989
Genre:  Hardcore Punk

A turbulent slab of Detroit-area hardcore punk right here!  Just like Unclean, this written plaudit is going to be fast, simple and to the point.  Unclean had a sound that is the definition of punk rock; blasting chords, driving drums and barking vocal mixed with a who-the-fuck-cares attitude front and center.  Unclean didn’t mince words and always flew a huge flag of PC crushing irreverence.  Moloko Velocet boils over with spirit and jeering words that are mixed with an element some bands forget...fun.  For the past 28 years, I have listened to this tape on a steady rotation.  It never gets old and always takes me back to a wonderful, youthful place when you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting an Unclean show at Blondies.  I always feel lucky to have grown up with the local music that surrounded me in the 80s and 90s.  Unclean is one of many favorites from what is still the consistently churning heap of awesomeness that is the Detroit underground music scene.

Listen to "Moloko Velocet" here.


LOSS - Despond

Artist:  Loss
Album: Despond
Year:  2011
Genre:  Doom / Death Metal

Christ is the record gloomy.  Loss’ Despond is an aural representation of their name.  They truly create an atmosphere that tosses any sliver of hope down a deep, dank well to drown.  Unlike other bands in their genre, Loss’ power is not in the full-bore assault of earth-smashing heaviness, but it lies with the mournful harmonies that take the listener to a dark, dark place.  Most funeral doom bands bore the life out of people by using drawn out minor chords that plod along at the pace of a dead snail just to prove how morose they are.  Loss keep their bleak outlook simple, but employ dynamics that keep the listener’s attention even when moving zero miles per hour.  I’m really looking forward to whatever is next for this band

Listen to "Open Veins To A Curtain Closed" here.


Songs You Should Know #18 - Lethal Dose, Stompbox & The Adicts

Artist: Lethal Dose
Song: Abattoir
Genre: Speed Metal

Artist: Stompbox
Song: No Woods
Genre: Heavy Alternative

Artist: The Adicts
Song: Chinese Takeaway
Genre: Punk 


VENUS BEADS - Incision

Artist:  Venus Beads
Album: Incision
Year:  1991
Genre:  Shoegaze / Modern Rock

Since people were too busy drowning themselves in My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Catherine Wheel and Swervedriver, most fans of the original shoegaze / alternative rock movement missed out on Venus Beads.  They have all the essentials: swirly, unnaturally overdriven guitars, pop sensibilities and a semi-bleak viewpoint.  Contradictory to all of their peers, Venus Beads injected heavy amounts of drive and bite into their songs, which, for me, made them much more exciting than the lion’s share of the stare at your shoelaces sect.  Worth the search for any of their releases.

Listen to "Moon Is Red" here.