Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year End Roundup and Time for Some Changes

Well that's another year in the books. As you may or may not have noticed, this was a disgraceful year for posts. I do have to apologize to those kind individuals who emailed or messaged me encouraging me to write more. It is appreciated. However, a few things happened this year that derailed any plans for increased output.

1. I lost my home office. My 8 year old daughter outgrew her bedroom and I was forced to move out. This was the only room in the house that got afternoon sun to take pictures. That was one fight I was not going to win.
2. My SLR camera broke. I might sound like a old man, but I only know one way to take pictures and upload them to blogger.
3. Hardcore hasn't exactly set my world on fire for a few years now. I know I have been asked to post more metal, but I really wanted to keep this blog hardcore related as much as possible.
4. I have nothing left to say. I always prided myself on including some personal stories or anecdotes on how a record made me feel when I first heard it or how hard it was to acquire it. At this point, record collecting for me is about commercialism and commerce. What can I tell you about the new Sweet Jesus 7" other than I added it to my online shopping cart and paid for it through paypal? It's good? Fuck - you can figure that out for yourself. No one wants a review. Amateur reviews come off as elitist or kiss ass. Fuck that.

So with that said, I will be pulling a Lebron James and "take my talents" to Instagram.
Instagram allows me to post pictures of everything and anything punk/hardcore/metal related through my ipod touch down in my basement. I can also post stuff on a whim without having to write War and Peace. Plus, if I am honest with myself, Google Analytics has shown me that 90% of the traffic to this site are people stealing my pictures or looking for downloads. So if it is pictures people want, pictures is what I will give them.

You can find me on Instagram under the name wewillburyyou88.
I have to say, since posting there over the last month or two, I seem to attract a lot of really cute girls from South America who fashion themselves as witches. The power of metal.

Alright, 2014. I would do a top 10 list for both metal and hardcore, but that would require buying and liking 10 hardcore records this year. So I am doing a top 7 for hardcore.

Top 7 Hardcore records of 2014

1. Sweet Jesus - Box 7"
2. Battle Ruins - Battle Ruins lp
3. Step Forward - s/t 7"
4. Give - Electric Flower Circus lp (still waiting for the pink vinyl)
5. Praise - Lights Went Out lp
6. Boston Strangler - Fire lp
7. Bane - Don't Wait Up lp

So, one look at the list and it seems 2014 was the year a lot of bands still want to sound like Swiz.

Top 10 Metal records of 2014

1. Stone Dagger - s/t 7"
2. Eternal Champion - The Last King of Pictdom 7"
3. Sumerlands - Guardian demo
4. Behemoth - The Satanist lp
5. Ancient VVisdom - Sacrificial lp
6. Goatwhore - Constricting Rage of the Merciless lp
7. At The Gates - War With Reality lp
8. Midnight - No Mercy For Mayhem lp
9. Mastodon - Once More 'Round the Sun lp
10. High Spirits - You Are Here lp

How cool is it that the most vibrant and exciting music of 2014 was 80's style US power metal played by hardcore "kids" from Boston, Philadelphia and Austin? Oh, and yes I know the EC was released on tape in 2013, but the vinyl came out this year on Hell Massacre. Another thing, I just couldn't leave Sumerlands off the list because of the digital download only. Nothing this good should be excluded by a technicality. Cyclopean will be releasing it as a 7" some time soon I hope.

Well that's that. I will keep the blog open so people can download pictures or read old shit, but I will be over on Instagram if you want to check my stuff out. Thanks. It's been fun.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Battle Ruins

Oh hi there. Yeah, I realize it has been a few months since my last post but I can honesty say I haven't had much to write about. Hardcore hasn't exactly knocked my socks off lately and the few records I did buy were the most common version, bought locally at one of a few record stores in town. If you want to read about Bane, Praise or Have Heart - go to Endless Quest or The One Thing That Still Holds True. What am I saying? You already are.

In between the couple hundred metal albums I have picked up over the summer (original NWOBHM,  70's hard rock, black metal, death metal classics or new stuff from Rise Above and Nuclear Blast) I was able to swing a decent trade to score one of the toughest punk/hardcore/Oi albums to find in 2014.

Battle Ruins.

 While hardcore in general for me has taken a back seat to metal the last couple of years, I can always count on the greater Boston scene to come through with decent music. To be specific, find a DFJ, CC or Brendon Radigan band and chances are it will rule.
Battle Ruins has three members of Rival Mob in it but sound nothing like them. Kind of like how Radigan sings in Magic Circle and Stone Dagger but sounds nothing like he does in Soul Swallower or back in XfilesX. I digress.

The Battle Ruins sound can be debated for hours. Street punk? American Oi? Hardcore? Dare I say punk? All of that is can be left for people who love to categorize and slot bands into sub-genres. What sets this band apart are the lyrics. This is straight up vikings, kings, Game of Thrones medieval shit! This is usually left to metal bands like Manowar or Dio. Maybe that's why I like it so much.

This album was released on Rock and Roll Disgrace and sold out fast. The clear vinyl version at this point is an urban legend and can run you a couple hundred bucks on Discogs or eBay if they ever pop up. I am more than happy with a plain black vinyl copy.

The buzz on this was very reminiscent of when the Prisoner Abuse or Boston Strangler albums came out. (Both DFJ bands. See a pattern here?) Those got a wide repress and can be had for a decent price. This isn't there yet, but luckily I didn't have to shell out any money. This trading thing is cool. I hope it can catch on with the kids.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Coven - Witchcraft : Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls

This post goes out to Mike Preston and Mark Sandwell - the only two guys in the collecting scene who would even remotely appreciate this!

I can say without any doubt that this is one of the odder purchases I have ever made. I have wanted this album for years, but purely as a curiosity. Since elementary school, the music I was drawn to was always on the "evil" side. From Black Sabbath to Venom to Slayer, and even up to today with Behemoth and Mayhem, I have always been fascinated with heavy music that touched on satanic or occult themes. I get a kick out of it, no different than watching horror movies like The Omen, The Exorcist or House of the Devil.
From the first time I read about this album, I knew I had to check it out. The band, and this album in particular, were always mentioned and appreciated in rock history books and magazine articles. A lot of attention had to do with the fact that they has a song called Black Sabbath and a band member named Oz Osbourne - a year before Sabbath released their first album. They were also the first band to publicly show a strong pro-satanic stance by throwing up the devil's horns and using inverted crosses before anyone else.

The problem is Coven aren't good. At all. Even with the recent popularity of 70's style doom metal/occult rock bands with female vocals like The Oath, Blood Ceremony and Purson, you would think that I would be able to gain an appreciation for the music on this album. Nope. It's just really bad psychedelic folk music. But really, this record has nothing to do with music.

Released on Mercury Records in early 1969, "Witchcraft" was quickly pulled from the record store shelves after a strong moral backlash stemming from the Manson Family murders in California and the fact that the album contained a fucking satanic mass. That's right, a 13 minute black mass on side two to finish off the album.

To tell you the truth it isn't exactly scary or powerful primarily because the guy conducting it sounds just like Principal Skinner from the Simpsons. KISS THE GOAT!

The layout of this album is unreal. 1969. I have to say it again, this was released in 1969.

It's has a weird double gatefold with the altar scene first and then it folds over again like a book for the lyrics. There is nowhere to actually put the record. That must have been inconvenient back in the day before polyethylene album sleeves.

I'm thinking I might spin the satanic mass on Halloween this year for all the trick-or-treaters. I'm a great dad like that.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Record Store Day 2014

Ah, Record Store Day. What a pain in the ass.
The buzz, the hype, the line ups, the ridiculous mark up and the frenzy of people crushing each other to grab the latest Bruce Springsteen exclusive.
Every year it's the same thing, standing in line before the store opens with all the weirdos and beardos. You know the ones. The hipsters who size you up and ask what you are looking for. They are hoping you are looking for completely different records from them or if not, figuring out how to box you out to ensure they "win".
The worst part is if you do get scooped on something you wanted, or the store didn't get it in, you end buying shit you don't want or need. You can't spend all that time and energy and walk away with nothing, right?

Well fuck all that. This year I avoided the day like the plague and was still able to pick up everything I wanted over the next two weeks.  As it turned out, a lot of the RSD exclusive releases never made it up here to Calgary in time. We still have stores getting records in this week. Not that there was much on my list anyway.
Since I started selling off represses and color variants last year in an effort to get this shit under control, RSD has suddenly become pretty easy. No more color vinyl represses means chopping off 80% of the punk and hardcore records released for the great event. No more Revelation. No more Victory. No Hydra Head, Taang or Beer City.

Whatever money I saved by not buying represses however went straight out the window with the Mastodon Live at Brixton double lp. This thing was outrageously expensive! On the plus side, it does come with a dvd of the entire concert. The video and sound quality are really, really good.

The only "must have" records on my list this year were the A389 Recordings split 7"s. The label started this series last year with the Ilsa/Seven Sisters of Sleep split. The bands cover rad metal/punk songs and it is all tied together with a fake horror movie motif. The records even come with huge foldout movie style posters as inserts.
This year's releases were Noisem/Occultist and Vegas/Integrity. I hope A389 keep this up. By far the highlight of RSD for me.

Since I am never, and I mean ever, going to buy original versions of The Fix 7"s, this awesome double pack from Touch and Go will do just fine. The records are reproduced as close to original as possible and come in this foldout sleeve. It's nice to finally have these songs on vinyl. Hell knows it wasn't going to happen any other way for me.

My 90's emo inner child couldn't resist picking up the Sunny Day Real Estate split. Gawd, I used to love this band. I will never listen to the Circa Survive side. At least I am honest about it.

I was flipping through one box and saw the "Mystery" side by side 7" release. I generally don't pick these up unless they involve Mastodon, but I was curious. I googled it while standing there and found out that it was Rush covering a Love song. As someone who spent a small fortune on a rare original Moon/Mercury self titled Rush lp earlier this year, I figured why not. Impulse buy number one.

My second impluse buy was the 32,525 repress of Joy Division's An Ideal For Living. Once again there was no way in hell I was ever going to pay two grand for an original 7", so this would have to do. Who doesn't love their early "post punk" stuff like Leaders of Men?

I picked this up off the racks heading for the door at one of my stops last week. I had no intention of buying it when I saw it on the RSD list, primarily because it wasn't an original and I really hate 10"s. Still, it's The Ramones, I have no intention of tracking down an original, and it looks pretty cool too.

 Oh, and Off! That was an easy choice.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Give - I Am Live 7"

Another day, another Give 7" to collect! This time around is a live record oddly enough entitled "I Am Live" from Photobooth Records. It  contains four songs from a couple different gigs back in 2012, my personal favourite being Voodoo Leather.
While I generally hold the belief that the only good live records are metal and usually begin with the word"Dio", this is not too bad. Well, except for talking about birthday cake and dead dads for 70 seconds to kick things off. Hearing about how someone's father was killed by a backdraft while firefighting kind of made me sad.
I don't even recall how I heard about this coming out or when pre-orders went up, but I got on it pretty early. It must have been some message board. I'm glad as I was able to score one of the limited yellow copies. There were 200 pressed on color and I think they went pretty fast.

I really like how they use the gig posters as A and B side labels so you know which side is which. Well, you could read the matrix as well, but don't wreck the aesthetic man!

A second color on black vinyl was also pressed. I have no idea how many were pressed, but it must be a quite a few as they are still available from the Photobooth Big Cartel webstore.

 This is kind of cool. In the color copy, this insert advertising the Flower Head "fan club" was included. All you need is to send them a postcard or letter with your shirt size and I assume they send you stuff. That is just an assumption though. Cool none the less.

 In the end I'm a slave to collecting Give 7"s so this was a no brainer. Just remember it is a live off the floor recording so I don't think you will be using this record to show off your new stereo system. That said, the overall vibe and energy from their live show comes through, making it a cool record to own.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Converge - Live at the BBC

I really didn't think I would be doing one of these kind of posts ever again. I thought my "pre-order every color and version" days were well behind me. Even for this record, I really thought it was.

You see, I missed the pre-order by a good 16 hours. I guess I neglected to check twitter or facebook or whatever the fuck message board to find out what was going on.
By the time I read online that it was up, the rarest color was long gone and talk was that the second rarest was as well. On the Deathwish site that would leave only the most common color left, and if that was the case I might as well get that locally. Perhaps it was a sign that it was time to hang this game up.

Then lo and behold, the pink was still around which made it possible to get two out of the three. Then I read that there were exclusive colors pressed for the Epitaph and Converge Kings Road Merch sites making it four out of five. Damn. So I placed separate orders for each of the three webstores and decided to play the ebay/Discogs game for the rarest color that sold out.

So here we are. After a few bucks and the postal waiting game, I scored all the colors. Except I didn't. There was a clear version from Deathwish limited to 100 that was randomly thrown into early orders. Of course that means all 100 ended up with the regulars that post on the Vinyl Collective message board.

Still, I think this looks pretty sweet as is and I am more than happy with what I got. The pressing numbers for each color are on the large side making it pretty easy to find if you were to start now. White was the rarest (except for clear) at 333 and was the one that sold out on the Deathwish site pretty fast. Next comes orange at 550 pressed and that one was available as an Epitaph exclusive. There were 774 of the pink ones, 778 of the blue version which was a Converge Kings Road exclusive and finally a whopping 5304 of the clear green. I don't want to sound like a contrarian dick, but I think the green looks best.

As far as the record goes, I was super excited to hear a live version of Dark Horse as I was absolutely floored seeing Converge open with it at Chaos In Tejas a few years ago. BBC recordings always turn out well, so at least the sound on the entire 7" is audible as opposed to what you might find on "The Long Road Home" dvd.
Packaging is of course amazing as well. I was wondering if the cover might end up a print at some point as I love Jake Bannon's artwork and this one I can hang on my wall without grief from the family as there aren't any skulls involved. But of course, I found out it already was developed as a print and sold out in two hours. Fucking internet.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Black Sabbath - The Next Six

By no means would most people consider these albums from Black Sabbath anywhere near as awesome or important as the first six with Ozzy, but that wasn't going to stop me from tracking down all the original UK first pressings either. There aren't any Vertigo swirls here, but I was still able to cobble together these six Vertigo pressings.
To tell you the truth, at one time or another I loved each of these as much as Master of Reality or Volume 4. Yup, even Born Again!
First up is the UK Vertigo pressing of Technical Ecstasy.

Probably one of the more hated Sabbath albums, I think there are some seriously great songs on here. Dirty Women, Gypsy and Back Street Kids rule. Plus, you want bad Sabbath albums, check out Tyr, Forbidden or the craptastic Seventh Star. Sorry Mike. It's not so good.

Vertigo had switched their labels to these Roger Dean "UFO" ones. That's the guy who did all the artwork for those trippy Yes albums. The swirl image is still there but now neatly positioned above the name at the bottom.

The album came with a two sided color lyric sheet insert instead of a printed inner sleeve. Thank gawd for that.

Next up on the list of Vertigo UK albums is Never Say Die!

This was Ozzy's last album with the band until the live Reunion cd and then the awesome 13 lp from last year. I really like this record and find myself humming the opening riff to Air Dance often. The cover on this Vertigo UK press is really different from the Warner Brothers one. The sky is blue here, not grey and you can see images of pilots in the clouds that they blurred out on the North American version. I have no idea why.

The same labels were used for Never Say Die! as Technical Ecstasy.

This one came with a printed inner sleeve but at least it is as thick as the cover so there are no split seams. Still, it didn't stop me from replacing it with a proper ploy lined sleeve. A man's got to have standards.

The next one up on the list is Heaven and Hell.

This was the first album with Ronnie James Dio on vocals and damn, did he ever help kick the band in the ass. This is one of the best albums of the 1980's if not ever. Sabbath got really heavy with this one. Pure metal. Maybe they should have changed the name of the band as they sound nothing like they did before, but by this point who cares?

With the change in vocalists sound and style, I guess it is appropriate that Vertigo changed direction with the labels around this time as well. They went with these orange/yellow ones that I think look really cool. I like that the swirl is sticking around the bottom of the design as well.

The next album up is Mob Rules.

This was the last studio album with Dio until Dehumanizer. I love this record as it contains a few of my favourite Sabbath songs ever like "Falling Off The Edge Of The World", "Voodoo" and "Sign Of The Southern Cross".

The same orange/yellow labels were used as Heaven and Hell.

Next up is my person favourite live album of all time, Live Evil.

I read that Dio hated this album as he suspected that he was turned down in the mix by Geezer and Tony during some studio after-hour shenanigans. Whatever, I can hear him just fine. The Heaven and Hell/Sign Of The Southern Cross/Heaven and Hell/Paranoid/Heaven and Hell medley is simply amazing. The Iommi solo jammed in there is mind blowing.
This was released as a double album with the same labels as the other two Dio releases.

The record comes in a nice gatefold that pissed Ronnie off to no end as there were only two pictures of him and one of Vinnie Appice. For a small dude - big ego.

The inner sleeves contained this very important message about music piracy. Wow, if they only fucking knew what was coming!

Finally we have the red headed step child of the bunch, Born Again.

Back in 1983, I ate this album up. I loved everything metal and it didn't get much heavier than this. Decades later people have really gained an appreciation for the record with doom metal back in vogue. Vocals were handed over to former Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan. The man could scream, I will give him that. Come on who doesn't love Zero the Hero? The sound is muddy and the album poorly produced but I think that just adds to the dark vibe.

The UK pressing featured Vertigo custom labels for the first time in the band's history. I freaking love them! The labels are pretty much the reason I decided to add this to the collection. I knew my cut off was coming really soon with Seventh Star and The Eternal Idol just over the horizon.

Born Again comes with a printed inner sleeve unfortunately, but at least this one comes with no split seams. As anyone with the North American Warner Brothers version can attest, this one has a lot of yellow. I mean a lot of yellow. The WB version is red lettering on white.

Well, that does it for my Vertigo Records UK Sabbath collection. I was thinking of posting Live At Last and We Sold Our Soul For Rock and Roll, but those were originally released on NEMS Records. Yeah, I bought those too. Funny to be spending so much time and money on records I have owned since I was 8 years old!