Thursday, November 12, 2009

11/5 Squidlair Vol. 2, Episode 2

Yeah, yeah yeah...late on posting last week's playlist.

Red House Painters - Make Like Paper
Husker Du - These Important Years
Katatonia - Brave
Ulver - Ostensor Sol Og Vestensor Maane
Vashti Bunyan - Autumn Tears
Musk Ox - Lullaby For Ghosts
Thrushes - Trees (demo)
P.S. Eliot - Like How You Are
Blood Ceremony - Into the Coven

Thursday, October 8, 2009

SHOW IS BACK! Squidlair Vol. 2, Episode 1

This was from two weeks ago, on September 24th. Played a bunch of tunes I jammed while abroad and over the summer. No show tonight as I'm off to see Dinosaur Jr in Washington DC. Expect a show report next week!

Redhouse Painters - Long Distance Runaround
The Zombies - Beechwood Park
Adam Franklin - Sundown
Anne Briggs - The Time Has Come
Agalloch - In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion
Bolt Thrower - Where Next To Conquer
The Doughboys - Countdown
The Doughboys - Happy Home
The Doughboys - Happy Sad Day
The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa - Square Wave
Slowdive - Machine Gun

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Interview: Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse

I know, I know...long time, no post.

Well, I had the great pleasure of catching up with famed death metal bassist Alex Webster when Cannibal Corpse played the University of Anglia in Norwich, UK, where I studied abroad this spring. He proved to be nothing short of an outright gentleman and gave some great responses.

In posting this, I'd like to both thank Andy of Metal Blade Records UK and Alex, as well as apologize to both for taking so damned long to type this up (the interview happened in February).


Asa: In addition to the gore factor in many Cannibal Corpse songs, there are also lyrics that can be perceived as misogynistic. Misogyny seems pervasive in extreme metal—for example, Devourment have a shirt that reads “SHE SHOULD HAVE SAID YES.” What’s your take?

Alex: Well, we had a lot more of that sort of stuff going on in the early days of the band. It wasn’t to be misogynistic. Chris [Barnes], when he was our lyricist, in the old days of the band, he probably thought that women made better victims for the horror stories that he was writing. Because that’s all our music is—all our lyrics are just horror stories, of course. I think that, at least for us—I can’t speak for any of the other bands, and everybody’s entitled to do what they want—but for us, we have a wide range of victims in our songs. Some are men, some are women…there’s definitely songs written from the point of view of the victim as well.

We definitely are not a misogynist band, but there are definitely songs that if you didn’t know what kind of people we were, you could hear that way.

Among other elements, you personally are known for bass breaks/solos. How did this first come up as an idea? Was this a weird or groundbreaking thing? Normally, many bass players in death metal are buried in the mix…less so now, but….

When we first started out, in addition to death metal, we’d been listening to a lot of proto-death metal stuff. To me, the first two Kreator records are as much death metal as they are proto-thrash. That kinda stuff, with the real fast drums and the tremelo-picked guitars, didn’t really have bass breaks that often. Kreator, Death, old Sodom…but some of the other stuff we listened to that was more hardcore-influenced, the crossover kinda stuff, like SOD or DRI, that stuff had a bunch of bass breaks in it. It’s kinda a signature thing of that kind of music. I think it kinda worked in that way. On “Put Them to Death” on the first record [1990’s Eaten Back to Life] I wrote that riff, and the guys said, “well, why not introduce that as a bass part?” There’s also another part in “Mangled” where the same thing happened.

For the first three records, we did write together a lot more. “Hammer Smashed Face,” same thing. It’s not really a solo, it’s more the bass introducing the part. And that’s something that so many death metal bands did. Morbid Angel did it on the song “Suffocation” [from 1989’s Altars of Madness]. It wasn’t really that common-- just something we did, and we didn’t really think about it all that much.

I was listening to Sadus’ and Autopsy’s first records a lot, and they both had Steve Digiorgio on them. [Sadus’] song “Twisted Face” started with a lot of cool bass stuff. The whole Illusions album had a lot great bass lines on it and the Autopsy record [Severed Survival, 1989] has got really cool bass playing, so those were big influences for sure, especially back then. In general, I just the bass to be an equal instrument to the other instruments. Not overpowering, just equal.

In the past, most Cannibal Corpse album covers have been very explicit. Kill [2006] only had the title on its cover, and Evisceration Plague just has a bunch of zombies. Was this an intentional downplaying of the gore themes?

We like the gore, and there’s gore on the interior of the record. There’s actually a very gory piece of art that’s the centerpiece of Evisceration Plague, but we didn’t put it on the cover. But my favorite piece of art we’ve used for an album might just be the censored version of Gallery of Suicide [1998] where it’s just the outside of a building. It’s all dark and evil…I just like darker, more moody kinds of stuff. I mean, I love the gore, for sure—Butchered at Birth [1991] is probably the best of the gory ones. It and Gallery are both good. We definitely like different types of horror. Like the more realistic and frightening horror like The Shining or maybe the Exorcist, movies like that where it’s more believable because a lot is left to the imagination. We also like horror that’s much more in your face—Evil Dead, that sort of thing, where it’s very obvious and people are being torn apart. We have both kinds of album covers to reflect that.

I mean, if you look at The Wretched Spawn [2004], that was one of our most grotesque covers and that was only a few years ago. We still might have gory covers in the future. The thing about having two pieces of art and having the gory one on the interior is…well, there aren’t too many mom-and-pop record stores left in the United States. A lot are going out of business. They were the places where you could sell uncensored albums. Now it’s at the point where if you make an album with a gory cover, it’s not going to be in one of the big chains or anywhere except online. And as you can imagine, the record company wouldn’t be too happy with an album nobody will sell anywhere. So it’s best if we can find something dark and scary on the outside we’re satisfied with, and also have something gory on the inside where a censor can’t see it. They don’t look too deeply into it.

We had been making censored versions of our records for so long and were tired of doing crappy censored versions with a boring piece of art and no lyrics on the inside. Now we’ve got two pieces of art we’re very satisfied with, all the lyrics, and at least with all the American copies, a free DVD. So both artistically and from a business side of things, it works out well to do it that way. Everyone wins—especially the fans. If there’s one big winner out of the whole illegal downloading thing, it’s them. They’re getting lower prices and more album content.

What do you think sets Evisceration Plague apart from the band’s previous records?

It’s really hard to say because they’re all death metal records. I think Evisceration Plague might have a little more variety than maybe some of the other records. We’ve always gone for variety, though… It’s another Cannibal Corpse album with a whole group of new songs, like every one before it, really. This one has some more dark melody and different rhythyms on it. In general, it’s just hopefully the best version of the kind of death metal we’ve always done. It’s hard to explain…more the kind of thing you have to listen to and decide for yourself if it’s got good variety or not. It’s hard for me to explain without getting overly technical, like, “we use this scale here,” that sort of boring stuff. We tried some different things and tried to keep it well within the boundaries of brutal death metal. That’s all we wanna be. We don’t want anything else in our sound. But I do feel that within the genre’s boundaries, there’s still a lot of room to experiment.

Speaking of which—in a recent interview with the UK’s Zero Tolerance magazine, you discussed what albums defining the death metal genre—Morbid Angel’s Altars of Madness, Immolation’s Dawn of Possession [1991], Death’s Scream Bloody Gore [1987]…but what about more out there, less straightforward death metal bands like, say, Atheist? I know you’re a big fan of [Atheist bass player] Roger Patterson…

I’m a huge fan of Roger and really anyone else who played bass in Atheist, too. But y’know, I don’t think Atheist would consider themselves a 100% pure death metal band. They’re just a great band, and the fact that they might not relate directly to a genre might be something they’re comfortable with. I suspect that’s the case. I think any band that’s going for any sort of progressive or avant-garde take on death metal or any other genre are not particularly concerned with what label they get tagged with.

Have you heard of Virginia’s Cannibis Corpse, and if so what do you think of them?

Yeah! They’re cool! Obviously, they’re goofing around with our band name and song titles, but the music they’re making is actually really good. Despite all the joking and silliness, they’re making music that’s worth listening to. It’s clear that they actually put a lot of time into it.
What would you say is the best-yet-most-underrated CC song you’ve ever written?

There’s a bunch. On our albums, especially in the past five or six, the more catchy songs are the first half, and then the second half is much more obscure, technical kind of stuff. Some of Pat’s songs, like “Hacksaw Decapitation,” get lost in the shuffle, I guess, because we have so many songs, and a lot of people only focus on the album’s first half. I’ve done a bunch I’m really happy with—“Grotesque,” “Sickening Metamorphosis,” “Mutation Of The Cadaver” and on this record “Unnatural” as far songs not as many people get into. There was a lot of time put into every song, though, especially as we got better as players and songwriters.

What’s a great, oldschool Cannibal Corpse tour story?

All these questions are the hardest ones to answer—cool stuff happens, but some of it you just end up forgetting about. But there’s been a lot of good times, and it all comes back to the people you meet. Like the friends you’re hanging out with. Like when we shared a bus with Malevolent Creation back in ’92. Two bands from Buffalo. Can’t think of a particular story that merits retelling here.

In a behind-the-scenes-video for The Wretched Spawn, you mention that you like all sorts of music and often try to think of to integrate it with death metal. What’s a specific song that demonstrates this mix?

You can learn anything you want about music—it’s all going to help your brain better understand music. I think it sparks creativity. With bass playing, there’s a lot of emphasis on having a groove and doing things that are syncopated. A lot of the better bass players like Jaco Pastorius and Rocco Prestia and Gary Willis do killer fingerstyle playing and I’ve been getting more and more into how to use that with Cannibal without it not being death metal. If you have sixteenth notes in a funk song in a happy scale, it sounds like funk. But if you play in a different scale and don’t use ghost notes like funk players do, it can sound like death metal with a killer groove. With the right kind of rhythm, it can sound heavy as fuck. I try to do that on songs like “Monolith” and “Five Nails Through The Neck,”—both have a heavy, sixteenth-note sort of death metal groove thing inspired by the bass playing I’ve studied.

Do you think death metal’s future is bright? What are some newer favorites of yours?

Yeah, I think it’s bright. It’s a music that gets a lot of interest from great musicians. I think if it was simpler, there would be less interest because you’ve got your format and you follow it. With death metal, there’s no real format except for boundaries like sounding evil, playing fast a lot of the time, having guttural vocals—but beyond that, how do you do it differently from other bands in the genre? There’s boundaries, but they’re not always clear. At what point does it sound like thrash or black metal, too? I think it has a bright future because of that openness. You can add to the genre just by being involved. There’s no set tradition. You don’t have to sound like death metal bands 20 years ago.

There’s a lot of good new bands. Necrophagist definitely expanded on the formula. Spawn of Possession did too. Obscura are awesome as well. I don’t see [the genre] ever stopping. Who knows if it’ll ever get truly popular. I mean, I wouldn’t say “who cares?”, because I want to see these hardworking musicians not going home in debt and to some job they hate just because they spent all their money putting gas in the tank. I see it happen to bands that are unbelievably talented.

I think death metal can get popular, because it’s great music, even if the bands aren’t selling that well now, comparatively.
You guys have sold over a million copies, though…

Yeah, but for us, that was over the course of nine or ten albums, counting all the total sales per album. Whereas with a band like System Of A Down—who did something really different, whether you like it or not—sold a couple million records of each album. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a ways to go.

What are your current favorite records?

Blasphemic Cruelty’s record Devil’s Mayhem. Just got it on tour and it’s killer. More of the oldschool Morbid Angel/Possessed kind of death metal. Also just got the Obscura record and it’s awesome as well. [Bassist] Jeroen Paul Thesseling is amazing—we’re gonna tour with them in the States in the fall. It’s not metal, but I really like that album Art Metal [2008] by Jonas Hellborg. Messhugah’s last one [Obzen, 2008] was good…the new Psycroptic [Ob(Servant), 2008]…oh, the new Deeds of Flesh [Of What’s To Come, 2008]! They’ve always had good bass players, but they have this guy Erlend Caspersen on it and it’s fantastic. Hour of Penance out of Italy—check them out too. Lots of good stuff out there. Anytime I hear someone go “oh, the death metal scene is dead,” I go, “you’re just not paying attention.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Come to the Sabbath

Yeah, yeah it's been a month. My bad.

If you've never heard Mercyful Fate, it's high time we remedied that. It's like Judas Priest doing a horror soundtrack, only a lot more badass than how lame that kinda sounds. The Denner/Shermann guitar duo is among the best in metal, the rhythm section is highly underrated, and King Diamond stands on his own in a vocal capacity. These are fluid, haunting tales of the dark, full of wailing vocal histrionics and distinctive, menacing melody.

I found this awesome bootleg live LP rip from their mid-90s reunion (circa the In The Shadows, I think record) somewhere in my internet wanderings. Enjoy.

Download Here

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

BEFORE the So-Called "Thrash Revival"

Fallen Angels are a thrash/death metal quintent hailing from Seattle, and began in 2004, well before everyone and their brother rocked Nike Hi-Tops and jean jackets like it was 1986 all over again. Dudes evenly split their influences between the the '80s heyday of Bay Area and the late '80s/early '90s DM scene.

The first time I saw them was at Northwest Deathfest 2006, and was actually the first time I heard Pestilence-- they broke out an absolutely ravaging cover of "Out of the Body." I still say that was one of the most powerful, hit-you-in-the-face live sets I've ever seen; the band attribute it to their immense rage at being moved to the second stage at the last minute after another band paid for their mainstage spot.

Their full-length, "Rise From Ashes," was released a few months ago and absolutely rips. Buy it if you like what you here on this oldschool demo, as some of the songs were re-recorded for the album.

Download the 2005 Demo here.
Buy Rise From Ashes here.
MySpace here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The world needs this like it needs more genocide

Limp Bizkit reunites? Blink-182 comes out of hiatus? I know there's some bad things going on in the world right now, but what the hell did humanity do to deserve these events?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Movin' Up in the World

In addition to this blog, I'm now a full-time member of ICDT. Some posts will be on both sites simultaneously; others will not. But anyway, I'm stoked to be onboard. Much thanks to Adam and Trey.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I'll Be Down, I'll Be Around

When I started listening to Dinosaur Jr a few years nacl, I felt like they were the band I'd needed in high school. Nerdy and reclusive, but also distorted and huge. Their first few records are like the best parts of Neil Young dipped in large vats of guitar effects. This bootleg from 1989, Blue Note, captures the now-reunited classic lineup in solid form not long before frontman J Masicis first gave bass player Lou Barlow the boot. I can only assume it's a soundboard rip because the band is fucking loud live unto today, yet everything's pretty clear here, even J and Lou's vocals.

Download here.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Keep on Movin'

It was another late night at the library last November and I decided (as I often do) that sustenance must be acquired. I popped over to the student coffee house to satiate my hunger and found it packed to the gills. Onstage, a man with a smooth, smoky voice recited spoken word poetry and it was so beautifully written and performed and completely hooked me in. His words were an alchemical mixture of humor, wisdom, confidence, questions and the kind of visual imagery that immediately crystallizes in one's mind.

His name is K.o.M.plex, aka Mr. Keep On Movin' and he does his shtick all over the states. He's put out two records, the second of which-- Grown Folks Bizness-- I bought from him immediately. I mentioned my blog and asked if I could maybe post a few songs but he just smiled and said, "man, just post whatever you want and do whatever you want." So here you go. A lot of these cuts have instrumental backing and vocal assists from friends and the whole thing is simply a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

Download Grown Folks Bizness here, and check out his MySpace here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Frost and Fire

Cirith Ungol were a Californian metal band heavily influenced by fantasy literature-- they took their name from Shelob the spider's mountain passs from Lord of the Rings and every album cover featured artwork initially used for Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné series. The band was steeped in a sound equal parts '70s hard/psych rock, Black Sabbath, and some forward-thinking ideas of their own. Although their debut record Frost and Fire is frequently hailed as the early-metal bees knee's, I much prefer this demo of theirs from 1979 as it features many of the songs that would eventually end up on the album in much rawer form. Also, the final version of the title track didn't have the trippy synth. There's some great guitar work, and Michael Flint's gnarly basstone really grinds it up. But what will truly make or break this demo for the listener are the wails of Tim Baker. By all accounts, the band were hardly popular back in the day, but Aesop from Squidlair pals Cosmic Hearse put it best-- "The term "cult band" here means that nobody gave a fuck when they were around, people even hated them, but now everyone claims to have been on board since the beginning."

So do yourself and the band some justice and lend your ears.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Slowdive- Live in Oslo 1992

If posting a crapton of their demos my first ICDT post is of any indication, Slowdive has been on the listening docket quite a bit lately. A truly sublime band.

When they released their second best album Souvlaki in 1993, their label not only delayed its release but also withdrew financial support mid-tour. The band then toured twice more on their own dime. It would be around this time, I'm guessing, that they released this Live in Oslo tape from their 1992 show at the Centrum in order to help with the money end of things. The setlist is solid-- three cuts from Souvlaki, supplemented by older EP and Just for a Day tunes. The song quality is in the B/B+ range-- the only real downsides are the occasional but incredibly brief tech difficulty (maybe once or twice) and the likely drunk guy yelling "I LOVE YOU!" at singer/guitarist Rachel Goswell between songs...and then Rachel eventually calls him out, which is pretty golden.

If you like My Bloody Valentine or any of their followers or just want spacey, relaxing music, check this tape out. And the aforementioned ICDT post, because most of those demos are as fantastic as anything the band released on an album.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"You listen to Chick Corea and play death metal? What?"

Before they weathered natural disasters, equipment detainment and band member departures and released their seminal 1994 LP Focus, jazzy//technical/progressive death metallers Cynic were a technical thrash/death metal band. A really, really good one.

Many folks can't get down with the fusion/jazz influences and vocoder vocals so prevalent in Focus and their newest, Traced in Air. I personally think they have a lush and substantially refined take on the "Chick-Corea-meets-death metal" concept Atheist arguably started, but anyway, these demos will please anyone who a) likes technical metal, b) hates that "dumb jazz shit" on Focus or c) wants to trace the band's progression literally year-to-year, this post is for you.

I do mean it about the last point. Included in the ZIP file are four demos: '88, '89's Reflections of a Dying World, '90, and '91, which features tracks "The Eagle Nature" and "Uroboric Forms" mostly devoid of the major jazz influences that would come to be on the Focus versions. Paul Masvidal also has a roar on par with Chuck Schuldiner, in my humble opinion (he later ditched this in favor of the vocoder when a doctor warned him throat damage was imminent). He and Jason Gobel's soloing remains totally sweet, and the latter two demos feature the masterful, go-to-90s-tech-death-metal-bassist Tony Choy (also of Atheist and Pestilence) skillfully and tightly holding down some excellent melodic bass lines.

The lineups vary a bit on each, so here's a rundown:

1988 Demo:
Jack Kelly - Vocals
Paul Masvidal - Guitar
Mark Van Erp - Bass
Sean Reinert - Drums

Reflections of a Dying World (1989):
Paul Masvidal - Guitar, Vocals
Jason Gobel - Guitar
Mark Van Erp - Bass
Sean Reinert - Drums

1990 and 1991 Demos:
Paul Masvidal - Guitar, Vocals
Jason Gobel - Guitar
Tony Choy - Bass
Sean Reinert - Drums

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Adventure metal, you say?

For once, the "for fans of" tag kinda worked out. As I was flipping through the latest Decibel, I found an add for Scale the Summit, a band of dudes my age who purportedly sounded like "a classy mixture of Cynic and Canvas Solaris with touches of Pelican and latter-day Atheist," according to Unrestrained! magazine. But I'd take it a step further and say the band-- despite their bumper sticker name (Set Your Goals! Go It Alone! Bring Me the Horizon! Stray from the Path! How many metal and hardcore bands have blunt slogans for names?!)-- seamlessly and enjoyable bridge both the early and current eras of progressive metal. A fan of Cynic's Focus or Athiest's Unquestionable Presence could dig on these tunes as much as any of the throng of teens salivating over Between the Buried and Me's Colors record. The guitars weave liquid, swirling melody over the equally hyperactive but nonetheless supportive melodic bass and nuanced, jazzy drumwork. There are also plenty of pensive moments that incorporate the best parts of the overpopulated post-rock/instru-metal movement, making the Pelican comparison plenty accurate as well.

Props dudes! Their album Carving Desert Canyons on the otherwise mediocre label Prosthetic drops February 17th. Have a listen here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


You guessed'er, Chester. I'm yet another whiteboy who really digs the Wu-Tang Clan.

The first time I actually somewhat heard them was through this mashup mixtape done by the mighty Soul4hire. Dude blended a capellas from classic Wu with French electro master Mr. Oizo (who's actually bringin' the dance a few hours away from me in London as I write). Obviously, it'll never touch the RZA's production, but it's an interesting reassembly of material.
Download Shaolin Worm Attack here.

I spent all summer absorbing the masterpiece that is 36 Chambers. When I needed some new shoes not too long ago, I found these for 60 bucks (they feel great). For my recent joint birthday party with my buddy, we covered "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" with some friends (I did U-God and Inspectah Deck's verses). My buddy Mac just hooked up me up with the following tunes last night-- a boot of an XM Radio special session with Raekwon, GZA, Inspectah Deck, and U-God, back by funk band El Michael's Affair, bustin' classic Wu-bangers. I've only listened to a few of the cuts so far (this isn't my upload), but the version of "Da Mystery" that they do is more than worth the download.

Friday, January 9, 2009

DF the CH, Episode III

As I'm finally all set up in my dorm in England, it's time to continue things with yet another little-known gem from the Kitsap County area.

The Humanoids were a bunch of Misfits-obsessed kids from Bainbridge Island, Washington, and were of the same generation as the aforementione Maurice's Little Bastards and Pantophobics. But while MLB were bursting at the seams with unstable lineups and Justin Maurer's endless energy and the Pantophobics were just goofing around, the Humanoids were a seemingly rambunctious lot (and at seperate points actually featured MLB's Sean Roach and Maurer on the drum throne). According to their way-outdated Angelfire site, singer Jakes was evidently known for self-mutilation when they played live, took a hatchet to an old bandmates' family's antique furniture, and was accosed of stealing from another ex-bandmates' brother. It was disappointing to hear that bassist Bradd was into some white power/NS digs at one point-- even reading Varg Vikernes' Vargsmal and taking a lot of influence from it.

But I digress-- the Humanoids were no racist band, and their Blood and Guts Demo is four slabs of complete and total lo-fi Misfits worship, complete with the off-key drawl of Jakes' singing. "Burn in Hell" tells of the narrator's stokage to...burn in hell, while "Line'em Up" preaches the death squad-style execution of everyone from "Baggy pants potheads [and] wanker wiggers" to "politicians with their pants at their feet." You can pretty much guess what "World War 3" is about, and "Slasher" details the life of a serial killer. All in all, hardly groundbreaking material, but a fun listen for anyone into horror punk.

Download here.

Where are they now?
I haven't a clue about the entire band save for Bradd, who along with a woman named Carrie runs Blood and Guts Records, a horror/oi/psychobilly label with a metal sublabel.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

We are experiencing technical difficulties-- please stand by.

I'm now in England, where I'll be studying abroad until June. I don't have internet access yet in my dorm and shit is kinda wack. Please stand by and posting should resume in a week's time or so at most. Hopefully by then the SQUIDCAST will commence! Yes, that's right-- a sweet podcast for your sweet ears full of sweet tunes. KEEP CHECKING BACK HERE!