mercoledì 21 novembre 2012

No Nukes

After way too much delay (Damaging Noise Rec. strikes again?), the long awaited second ep by Nagoya's Attack SS "no nukes ep!!" finally saw the light. Courtesy of Distort Reality Records outta Portland. Best ep of the year? Well, definitely a solid runner for that title. This sounds quite different compared to "no boss" 7" released three years ago by Detonate. The production is way stronger and less fuzzy plus the vocals are less reverbed but more yelled. The production reminds me a lot the one of their townmate D-Clone debut full lenght "creation and destroy". I suspect they recorded it in the same studio (I'm too lazy to check). These four tracks are extremely powerful and they have the BEST drum sounds in years. Seriously, all bands should have drums that sound this solid.
Like perfectly stated in the last issue of Distortion Faith 'zine, lately the quality level of noisepunk records seriously dropped down. But thanx visnù there are bands like Attack SS out there to prove that even if this sub-sub-genre is hyped and trendy, there's still space for interesting, solid and original records. So please do the world a favour: do NOT start a band that sounds like Confuse or Swankys. Thanx.

martedì 13 novembre 2012

Tales of a pretentious asshole#003

This issue of "tales of a pretentious asshole" will bring us again in japan (next time it'll be another country, I promise) to talk about two bands that shared some members and, in my opinion, the second is just the natural evolution of the first one. I'm talking respectively about Bastard and Judgement. Two of my favourites ever, two classic bands that gave a huge contribution to define what is now called "burning spirits" hardcore. It took me years and a good amount to complete this collection (well, technically it's not completed yet but more about this later) but it was definitely worth it.
It all started back in 1989, when Bastard self-released their debut ep "Controled In The Frame". Line-up was Tokurow on vox, Zigyaku (ex-Gudon & Half Years) on guitar, Koba-Chan (ex Systematic Death) on drums and Iizawa (ex Tetsu Arrey) on bass. They played a downtuned mix of what now would be called crust and burning spirits hc. My guess is that they were equally influenced by japanese bands like Deathside and Acid as well as some english crust like bands ENT, Doom and the like. The songwriting is indeed too complex to be simply tagged as crust but, on the otherside, the atmosphere is your typical gloomy and dirty crust one.
While everyone and your grandma seem to be all about "Wind Of Pain", this ep doesn't seem to get the attention it deserves. The six tracks contained here are indeed as just as good as the lp so do yourself a favour and hunt down a copy or download it but please give this a try. If you have decent tastes, you won't be disappointed at all.
It was originally released by the band on their own Bastard Records label. 1000 copies made with a simple and quite ugly black and white cover. There's a limited version of this press called tour edition that comes with a xeroxed copy of the cover with "tour only E.P." written in the inner flap. I'm perfectly conscious that my copy is the bootleg version that came out sometimes in late 90s. I'm planning to update it to an original as soon as I can affort it. But at the moment I'm fine with it. In 2010 it has been officially repressed by 540 Records with screened cover and it came in at least 4 different vinyl colors (black, red, orange and blue).
Straight forward to 1992 and the world wouldn't be the same place after Bastard one and only full lenght "Wind of Pain" has been unleashed to the masses. Or should I'd better say to the lucky 1000 fellas who were able to put their hands on a copy. Again self released on Bastard Records. One of the most sought after japanese record ever. And also one of those few records that everyone, from sXe boyscouts to crusty lepers, seems to agree about its greatness. I'm pretty sure you've heard one or more person raging about it as "the best hc record ever". Not sure if it's number one, but definitely in the top 5. Everything from the opening line of "misery" to the chorus of "truth" is simply perfect in its sheer brutality. Ugly artwork again but at least better than the 7" one.
This one was the last piece of the puzzle to complete my collection. It was one of those records that kept eluding me for years. Even when I had enough money on my paypal account and it was on ebay, it seems like there was always someone who could shell out more money than me. A few months ago I've finally found a guy who wanted to sell his copy for a decent price. I had all the time to sell some old records to put together the money to buy it. Definitely the dumbest price I've ever paid for a record but at least it was better that what it goes for on ebay in these days. And worth every bloody cent.
This was bootlegged too in the late 90s'/early 00s'. That version contains the 7" songs as bonus. You can easily recognize it from the cover since it has "wind of pain" written in white letters (red on the OG version). People lately are paying crazy amount even for this, so go figure how important and rare this record is! In 2013 Feral Ward officially reissued it with a different (but still ugly) artwork. Two different presses, first on red (ltd edition) & black, second on white wax.
How cool does the back cover look in its b/w plainness?
Every pic you'll find has the side B label since it has all the infos. But side A looks way better!
Not sure when Bastard disbanded exactly. But axemen Iizawa and Zigyaku kept playing together and recruited under the skins no less than my favourite japanese drummer ever: the mighty Muka-Chin, who previously served time in awesome bands like Chicken Bowels and Deathside. This will remain the core of Judgement for its whole existence. Various people would hold the microphone in their various releases.
Judgement songwriting is more unique and complex but I'm quite confident that Bastard would have evolved in this way. Or maybe it's Muka-Chin contribuite that took the band on a direction more similar to later Deathside? Anyhow, no traces of crust here. Just solid and metallic japanese hardcore. Or "burning spirits", if you prefer this term. Aesthetically, while Bastard was all black and white, all Judgement releases come with full coloured sleeves with Sugi artwork and pictures of the band on the back (well, except for "Haunt In The Dark"). Also lyrically, while Bastard were more about common political theme, Judgement went more on a personal/instrospective level.
During their career they managed to release four single EPs and a miniCD (later repress as a 7"). All released by the legendary HG Fact label. There was a discussion a few years ago if the first Judgement release was "No Reason Why" or "Process". It has been stated that "No Reason Why" is the first one but its catalogue number is HG-071 while "Process" is "HG-070". A bit confusing, but according to discogs "No Reason Why" was released the 25th of December 1996, while "Process" on 12th January 1997.  Anyhow, both these were recorded with Nori (ex Cruck) on vocals during the same session and they are the best Judgement material in my opinion. 
"No Reason Why" is my favourite of their eps. Two tracks of pure and simple "burning spirits" hardcore. This is the record I would play to someone with no clue that needs to understand what this sub-genre is all about. Both the title track and "Kick Them Over" are fast and brutal hardcore with a metallic sound and complex but still direct songwriting. I love that the chorus at the end of "Kick Them Over" pronounced with the japanese accent sounds exactly like they are screaming some imprecations in Naples' dialect!
Not sure how many were pressed (1000?) but it's not that hard to find for a decent price. Some copies comes with a sticker.
Without any doubt, "Process" is Judgement's holy grail. It's a release that was sold only at gigs in japan and only 300 were pressed, making it the rarest of the bunch (1/11/'14 updated: I've been told by uber reliable sources that 1000 of these were printed). Plus many consider the title track to be the best Judgement song ever. Et voilà, you got a bloody expansive record. Never tought I would ended up owning a copy but last year I scored this one from Punk & Destroy for less than half the price it goes for usually. Both cover and record are in mint condition but it was missing the insert. The guys at the shop were super nice and provided me with a xerox of the original insert from their own copy. Of course if you happen to have an extra insert, please get in touch!
What can I say about the title track? It's a perfect and unique song that quietly starts with an excellent arpeggio that slowly erupts into one of the most powerful mid-paced song ever to get closed in the same way it started. Man, what a song! Side B has "The Situation" which is a more traditional burning spirits track like the ones on "No Reason Why". Excellent too but not on the same level as "Process".
Nori left the band so for their third ep "Haunt in the Dark" the vocals duty were committed again to Tokurow. So at this point Judgement was 3/4 of Bastard. He did an excellent work but I must admit I prefer Nori's vocals. Plus the sound is slightly less heavy and downtuned. Don't get me wrong, even if this is the record that marks a step forward from their "pure burning spirits" early days, both these tracks are incredible. But I think that if they were recorded with heavier guitars and Nori on vox, "Haunt In The Dark" could have been their best record ever! Comes in a beautiful full color gatefold sleeve. Largely pressed so this is not hard to find for a reasonable price.
At the point when "Night Brings..." was recorded in 1998, Tokurow already left the band so Judgement did their first and only recording session as a three pieces. Vocals were handled respectively by Zigyaku on "Night Brings" and by Iizawa on "Heart Of Darkness". Like for "Haunt In The Dark", the songwriting got more personal and different from the burning spirits classic formula. But with a better sound and more fluent tunes. Overall these are my fave tracks in the post-Nori era, making it my third fave Judgement release.
Widely pressed again but for some unknown reasons this one kept skipping me so it was the last piece of the Judgement puzzle that I was able to score. 
Finally, the "Just Be..." ep, originally released in 2000 by HG Fact as a miniCD and repressed for the first time on vinyl nine years later in collaboration with Prank Records. Maybe it was better to repress the whole Judgement discography on lp since people are paying crazy price for Judgement records but, hell, I'm happy to own this on vinyl. This time it has 4 tracks, recorded with Jhaja Iwaki on vox and a girl on bass. For years I thought this was the weakest Judgement material but after playing this all I can say is that it rules. Perhaps it's a bit more accessible compared to some of their previous stuff but it still has the trademark Judgement sound so I won't complain anymore.
Largely pressed for their reunion at Chaos In Tejas 2009. 200 on orange, 200 on green, thousands on black.
I haven't mentioned comp. tracks and cd discographies so here are complete discographies for both bands: 

-Controled In The Frame 7", 1989, Bastard Records, 1000 made
-Controled In The Frame 7", 199?, Bootleg,???
-Controled In The Frame 7", 2011, 540 Records,???
-Wind Of Pain LP, 1992, Bastard Records, 1000 made
-Wind Of Pain LP, ???, Bootleg, ???
-Wind Of Pain LP, 2013, Feral Ward Records, ???
-V.A. "Go Ahead Make My Day - Smashing Odds Ness 2" comp. LP, Smashing Oddness Rec.
-V.A. "Triple Cross Counter" comp. 7", 1989,  Kagai Monsou Rec., 1000 made
-No Hope In Here CD, ????, Bastard Records, ???

-"No Reason Why" 7", 1996, HG Fact, ???
-"Process" 7", 1997, HG Fact, 300 made
-"Haunt In The Dark" 7", 1997, HG Fact, ???
-"Night Brings" 7", 1998, HG Fact, ???
-"Just Be..." miniCD, 2000, HG Fact, ???
-"Just Be..." 7", 2009, HG Fact/ Prank Rec., ???

If something's missing, if there are any errors of if you want to fill any missing infos, just drop a comment!!

venerdì 2 novembre 2012

Kill A Commie

You know, it's the same old story. The month is not over yet but you have already spent way too much in records. You promise to yourself that you're not going to buy another record or two 'till the new month starts. Then, suddenly, you got offered something you want badly. In mint conditions. For a bargain, too. If there's something I've learned over many years of record collecting is that if you want it, the price is ok and you have the money, just go for it. Otherwise, you'll regret it forever. I've made the error of not buying a record only 'coz I had already burnt my monthly record budget so many times in the past. And everytime I think again about a certain record that I could already own, all I want to do is to crush my nuts with a hammer for having been so dumb. Remember, certain records won't cross your path again so easily.
Well, luckily I've learned the lesson so, to make a long story short, I've ended up owning this:
The legendary "This Is Boston Not L.A." compilation lp released by Modern Method Records back in 1982. Second press (first has blue labels). Top conditions. This is my probably my favourite comp. ever. Definitely the best outta U$ofA. The most amazing thing is that, even skipping big names like SSD, DYS and Negative FX, it still remains a damn solid release. Well, I've always preferred the not-sXe bands from the Boston early scene, so this comp. is simply perfect in my eyes. Just think about the Freeze, FU's and Jerry's Kids material featured here. Not to mention Gang Green, the real winner here with their best tracks ever! Ok, I know it's not "all killer no filler" since there are a couple of mediocre bands but thanx shiva the best bands here are the one with more songs. For being a 30 years old record, it still sounds incredibly fresh and energic. But I'm talking about an undisputed classic, so you already know it!
This post made me think about my fave comp. ever so I got nerdy and ended up making my personal top 5 list of the best punk/hc compilations ever (chronological order):
-"This Is Boston Not LA" (1982)
-"Eye Of The Thrash Guerrilla" (1988)
-"La Ciudad Podrida" (1990)
-" Bllleeeeaaauuurrrrgghhh! A Music War" (1998)
-"AxHC" Australia's Hardcore Compilation" (2007)
Of course there are way more important compilation out there that could have made it in this list (Flex Your Head or  Thrash Till Death just to say a couple of names), but these are the ones that mean most to me. So here's my list, what's yours?