Drivin’ Home From Work Music Reviews, Part One of a Zillion

ROCK OUT WOOOOOOOOThis was the first Google Image Search result for “rocking Sentra,” and as such, I feel it is appropriate.

Yes, my gentle readers, (All seven or so of you? Christ.) it’s another multi-part, ongoing thing that I’ll probably abandon really fast, but you’re not paying for this, so quiet, you. Anyway. A while back, I found this site, Rate Your Music, where you search out and enter all the musical crap you own, and do things like rate it, review it, and make really snooty, unnecessary, and/or completely asinine lists regarding it, (The world does not need a top 500 list for a given year, because if it’s made by one person, that person is a goddamn liar.) however you see fit. And being a complete and utter dork, I did that. Or at least I mostly did that, because after a while, it occurred to me that I have way too much crap, and it struck me that I couldn’t actually rate some of it, because I had barely even listened to it. You see, between the acquisition of fast internet and ensuing complete moral lapse that happened around 2002 and the one time around 2006 when I was kind of semi honkey-rich and just wouldn’t stop raiding clearance and used bins at Hastings for $3 metal CDs, I accumulated a whole bunch of crap, and most of it got lost in the shuffle.

But now, I find myself with a thirty-plus minute drive home from work, coupled with about an hour or so a week of yard-mowing time, and god dammit, it’s time to pull some of this crap out (or, you know, load it on various mp3-playing new-fangled dee-vices) and actually listen to it, and justify its existence on my hard drive or shelf. And since I’m apt to do that sort of thing, I’m sharing the results of this half-baked musical quest with you, the internet. (Hi, internet.) Just keep in mind, though, that I’m not a professional music reviewer, and I’m probably not that good of an amateur one, so this is mostly going to be a bunch of “well, this sounds like so-and-so, crossed with so-and-so,” and “ha ha, oh man, this sucks.” But once again, you’re not paying for this.

Acrophet - Corrupt MindsACROPHET – CORRUPT MINDS (Released 1988, Illegally downloaded probably in 2009) – It’s weird, because out of all the stuff I’ve plowed through so far, this is one of the things I’ve liked the most, but I just can’t come up with much to say about it. I guess all I can say is that if you imagine a more Slayer-worshiping version of Ignorance-era Sacred Reich with a singer who’s probably ever so slightly more gruff-sounding, you’ve got these guys. Basically, this is fully awesome, but like most late-80s Slayer Baby style thrash bands, (and hell, Slayer themselves sometimes) the songs tend to run together, so there’s not one big “hit” you can listen to over an over to really make the album. I guess that’s why barely any of this kind of band ever really made it. Still though, like I said, fully awesome. Sorry about this review guys, it gets better.
Mixed Tape Worthy Songs if this was still 1996: Like I said, it all runs together, but I seem to remember “From the Depths” being more awesome then most of this.
Given the chance, would I actually pay money for this? Sure, so long as I can find it for less than “HERE IS MY SUPER-RARE CD, GIMME FORTY BUCKS” prices, which is easier said than done.

Bad Brains - Build a NationBAD BRAINS – BUILD A NATION (Released 2007, Illegally downloaded a year or two ago) – Originally, I was only casually into the Bad Brains, the same way most people are; you getthe self-titled one from 1982, listen to “Banned in D.C.” for like three years straight, maybe go get Rock for Light if you’re feeling like delving further, and then, you just sort of disregard the rest. But after watching American Hardcore for like the million-billionth time one day, I was all like “oh man, Bad Brains,” and just snatched up everything through nefarious internet methods. Of course, being lazy and having ownership of several Iron Maiden albums, I never actually bothered to listen to any of it, and they were just gathering virtual dust until recently. But man, seriously, why – if I just had to go back and finally visit all that stuff – did I have to start with the new one? Seriously, this is a thing that never should have happened. It’s just all weird and wrong, and I know, these guys are legends and all, but sweet Jesus, what happened to H.R.’s voice? He sounds either like a more grown-up version of Elmo or a more sweet and friendly version of Gollum, and weird and high-pitched and like the back of his mouth is all squeezed up or whatever. Not to mention that he rarely ever seems to actually be singing the song that’s being played, going off on some soft and mellow stroll through a flowery field, while the other three guys blast away some crazy punk rock shit. And if the first two layers of vocal weirdness weren’t enough, this isn’t helped at all by the production job, (done by Beastie Boy Adam Yauch – R.I.P. Adrock, badly producing terrible albums in heaven) where they try to make up for H.R. only barely being there by burying him way down in the mix and putting a thousand echoes over every line. It’s just such a goddamn train wreck, and I feel bad for everyone who got all excited for their first album in a decade. The funny part, though? It always seemed like people had this love/hate relationship with the Bad Brains, where they were this super-legendary hardcore punk band, who also did a bunch of randomly thrown-in reggae songs that no one wanted. But this time around, all the awkwardly-inserted reggae songs work wayyyy better than the punk songs, and are probably the only real redeeming quality this thing has. Also, after thirty years or however long it’s been, they still remain better than just about any other American-born reggae group at not giving in to the temptation to suddenly adopt accents like actual Jamaicans. Still until they shave this down and re-release it as a reggae-only E.P., it’s awful.
Mixed Tape Worthy Songs if this was still 1996: For some reason, I seem to remember “Universal Peace” being semi-tolerable, but that might just be because it’sthe only song title I remembered.
Given the chance, would I actually pay money for this? Oh, dear lord no.

Devastation - IdolatryDEVASTATION – IDOLATRY – (Released 1991, Bought used in 2006) – I kept seeing this on the rack at Hastings, and the band name and the cover were kinda cool, but they wanted nine whole dollars for it, so I was hesitant, you know?  And this whole time, it never occurred to me to try and find it online, so eventually, I just caved in and bought the damn thing. Seriously, I bought a Cd based mainly on what the cover looked like and what the band name sounded like, and for like eight seconds, I actually felt like a real metalhead. It was pretty glorious, really. But anyway, whoa, sweet holy mother of crap, dudes. HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS? This is awesome. And not like “hey, this is alright for a random unknown band I found somewhere” like the Acrophet album up there. This is seriously like some sort of lost all-time legendary heavy metal album that for whatever reason, no one gave a shit about. To describe it in my usual way of just comparing them to someone else, this is what Sepultura’s Beneath the Remains  and Arise would have been if those two albums (which for the record, and awesome, so don’t get what I’m saying here twisted) weren’t both just two or three really great songs up front, followed by thirty minutes of filler. (Really, when was the last time you put in Arise and skipped ahead to “Subtraction?”) Like it sounds a whole shitload like old Sepultura, all straddling that line between thrash metal and full-on death metal, with a really gruff-sounding singer, (but not too gruff, you know?) but with the major difference that every goddamn song on here is good. For real, why does no one ever talk about these guys? Weird. I guess the only real strike against this is that – much like those two old Sepultura albums I mentioned –  it has that same godawful Scott Burns/Morrisound Studios production job that pretty much every even semi-underground band had around that time, where everything sounds like Burns was running around the studio, stark naked and half-mad with cocaine psychosis, screaming, “Pillows! Pillows! Put more pillows over all the microphones! MUFFLED METAL IS THE ONLY TRUE METAL!” At least that’s how I imagine what went down.
Mixed Tape Worthy Songs if this was still 1996:  I’d probably go with “Freewill,” “Deliver the Suffering,” the title track, or “Souls of Sacrifice.” Honestly, just take your pick.
Given the chance, would I actually pay money for this?  I ALREADY DID! HA! But if I ever find out that the fancy reissued version from a year or two ago doesn’t have that stupid goddamn “just turn the volume up louder” remixing job that always seems to hapen, I might end up buying that and sell this copy on Ebay for like forty bucks. Power moves.

Extra Hot Sauce - Taco of DeathEXTRA HOT SAUCE – TACO OF DEATH (Released 1988, Illegally downloaded in 2009, maybe?) – Man, apparently at some point in the late 1980s, the world was just completely awash in intentionally-humorous thrash/punk crossover bands. For every group like S.O.D. or GWAR that ended up having some amount of staying power, there were probably a hundred like these guys, who just screwed around for a minute, scraped up enough empty cans to fund a record, and then just sort of faded away. And I guess the most notable thing about these guys is that one-time-or-another bass player for Anthrax, S.O.D., Nuclear Assault, (and basically every other band, ever) Dan Lilker is part of this group, oddly enough as the drummer. And yeah, this is pretty much as much of a mess as a band named “Extra Hot Sauce” would, could, and should be. It hits all the standard notes – a song about AIDS that’s all “LOOK AT ME, I’M OFFENSIVE,” multiple tracks clocking in at under thirty seconds, intentionally messed-up cover versions of famous songs, (“Paranoid,” “Freebird,” and the track listing tells me that they did “Communication Breakdown,” but damned if I remember ever hearing it.) and one or two “serious” songs about war or death or nukes or whatever. It seems like it should be right down my alley, (I might be the only person left on Earth with more than one M.O.D. compact disc in my possession, and I totally almost bought a Post Mortem CD this one time, back in the day) but a lot of other bands did the same thing way better, and I guess I just finally hit my limit for novelty thrash.
Mixed Tape Worthy Songs if this was still 1996:  Their version of “Paranoid” isn’t terrible, and I suppose “Tony’s Dilemna” is funny enough to listen to more than once.
Given the chance, would I actually pay money for this?  At a bargain-bin price, sure, but at the thirty bucks (for vinyl – does this even have a CD version?) that Ebay wants, absolutely not.

Today is the Day - Sadness Will PrevailTODAY IS THE DAY – SADNESS WILL PREVAIL (Released 2002, Bought from the Hastings bargain bin in 2007.) – Okay, I knew what I was getting into when I plunked down the $3.99 for this. (packaged together in a little slip-cover with Live Till You Die, for the record) This is weird, crazy, experimental noisy stuff, so I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to wrap my head around everything that was going on, and I knew that vocally, it just had to be a dude screaming his lungs out, and honestly, I knew I wasn’t going to like it. But man. Okay, Today is the Day might as well be the solo project of this one dude, Steve Austin. (Yeah, I know. Shut up.) And like… One time, I saw someone on the internet criticize the Star Wars movies by saying something along the lines of “George Lucas came up with the greatest story ever told, but he made the mistake of trying to tell the story himself,” possibly followed by a Jar-Jar reference. And with Today is the Day, yeah, it’s total noise of a kind that I’m not into, but you can really tell that there’s something there. You can tell that a lot of imagination and ideas and creativity went into it, and as far as some of the arrangements and instrumentation and whatnot, it borders on being goddamned brilliant, (I was about to say something about how “you can tell that a lot of Today is the Day went into Mastodon’s sound,” but then I remembered that Brann Dailor and Bill Kelliher were actually members of the band at one point, and didn’t want to sound like a complete numbskull. Oh, wait. Oops.) but man, why did Steve Austin have to do the singing himself? It’s not just that ball-shredding screams aren’t my thing (and they’re really, reeeeaally not my thing) but it’s the way he does them. He seriously sounds less like a tortured soul or whatever he’s going for than he does straight-up sound like an Angry Bird. And not just any Angry Bird, but the little red Angry Bird, which is just about the most useless Angry Bird there is. (Not to be confused with the big, red Mongoloid version, which is awesome.) He’s just all squeaky and weird, and it’s just absurd in ways that couldn’t possibly have been intentional. I’m sorry, it just sounds dumb. For the record, this was a two-disk album, but to be perfectly honest, I didn’t even bother with the second half. I’m a terrible album reviewer.
Mixed Tape Worthy Songs if this was still 1996:  No.
Given the chance, would I actually pay money for this?  Uhh, apparently, if you package it with another CD and drop the price to “used Paul Anka cassette” levels, yeah, I suppose.

Unlce SlamUNCLE SLAM – WHEN GOD DIES (Released 1995, Illegally downloaded sometime around 2004) – I’ve been a Chicago Bears fan pretty much ever since I could form complete thoughts regarding football, and everyone’s always known this. But one year for Christmas, my grandparents decided to get me and my brother hats of our favorite teams, and while he ended up with the Steelers hat he required, I ended up with an Atlanta Falcons hat. I’m guessing the reason for this was because well, they didn’t have any of the Bears, and if you squint real hard, black and red kinda looks like navy and orange, I guess? I dunno for sure, but apparently, this was a common problem among kids and presents from people who didn’t really understand the importance of the difference in things. So much like asking for Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Gensis and ending up with Bonk the Caveman for the N.E.S., this CD is a lot like what would have happened if you asked your grandma for How Will I Laugh Tomorrow or Lights… Camera… Revolution by Suicidal Tendencies. There’s an unending list of similarities, from the singer trying wayyy too hard to sound like Mike Muir, to the occasional funky parts, to there being a song or two about how GUYS, I’M TOTALLY A CRAZY PSYCHO, I REALLY I DON’T THINK I’VE MENTIONED THAT YET, SERIOUSLY, to the general sound of the production, to the fact that R.J. Herrera is playing drums. I’m not saying this is a complete dog poop album or anything; on it’s wn merits, it’s actually not bad. But to fully enjoy it, you’d have to have never, ever heard 90s-era Suicidal Tendencies, and I kinda doubt anyone who’s dug deep enough to find out about Uncle Slam would fit that description. Like I’m sure that at some point between 1990 and 1995, some press release or crappy ‘zine review has included the sentence, “if you like Suicidal, you’ll LOVE Uncle Slam!” but really, you probably won’t. Best band name ever, though. Ever.
Mixed Tape Worthy Songs if this was still 1996: I dunno, “My mother’s Son” and “Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em” were alright, from what I can remember.
Given the chance, would I actually pay money for this? Only if it was really, really cheap, like Salvation Army cheap.

There were actually more of these I’ve bothered to listen to, but this is already really, really long, so someday, be prepared for PART TWO~! where I explore Mondo Generator, Avail, Snapcase, and the goddamn FEARLESS IRANIANS FROM HELL. Possibly more.
Also this is the part where I point and go “HA-ha” like Nelson Muntz to everyone who came here from Google thinking it was one of those shady Rapidshare download blogs, like the weird Russian one that actually gave me a virus when all I wanted to do was look at goofy album covers, honest.