Archive for January, 2013

Neurosis Redux

Posted in Articles with tags , , , , , on January 7, 2013 by Magadh

Owing to technical difficulties,  as well as Washington’s cannabis laws, the footage and review of Neurosis/Tragedy/Blackbreath/Stoneburner from January 5th at Seattle’s Showbox is irretrievable. Suffice to say the line up was mind blowing and nobody feels worse about the loss than me. That said, I did want to address some of the nonsense directed a Neurosis from sections of the local chattering class.

Let me preface the rest of this piece by saying that nobody will accuse me of being  a shameless Neurosis fan boy. Prior to receiving a copy of Honor Found in Decay (an excellent record by the way) from a friend the last Neurosis album I purchased was Enemy of the Sun. I’ve found their more recent material to be most compelling live, so I haven’t made the effort to augment my collection. Still, they’ve always been a band I have tremendous respect for.

My respect for the band is why the misguided ramblings of a few local types can’t be allowed to go unanswered. Specifically, the notion that the band is “out of ideas”, “cashing in with this tour” and “not challenging audiences, just playing what people want”. Where to begin addressing this idiocy?

Firstly, Scott Kelly, Jason Roeder, Dave Edwardson and Noah Landis all spent time living in the New Method Warehouse located in Emeryville. New Method was dirty, bleak, tough, DIY and empowering. Neurosis has embodied those traits throughout its existence. The bands added to the bill for the Seattle Show, Black Breath, Tragedy and Stoneburner, certainly confirm the band remembers its roots. Kelly was quoted as saying that Neurosis is fundamentally based in Black Sabbath and Black Flag. The bands chosen to share the stage with them confirm they are not alone. Further, the evening’s lineup, and indeed the lineups throughout the tour, reflects a strong commitment to supporting the DIY community. In addition, if cashing in is reflected in an 8 show US tour, they seem to be doing things wrong.

Addressing the idea that the band is just, in essence, playing the hits I present the set list from January 5th.

  1. Eye
  2. My Heart for Deliverance
  3. At the End of the Road
  4. Times of Grace
  5. Distill
  6. At the Well
  7. Left to Wander
  8. We All Rage in Gold
  9. Bleeding the Pigs
  10. Given to the Rising
  11. Locust Star

A plurality of tracks were culled from Honor Found in Decay, with the rest drawn from The Eye of Every Storm, Through Silver in Blood, Given to the Rising and Times of Grace. This certainly doesn’t speak to a band pandering to its audience. Rather, the set list is well curated with each track flowing into the other as the band builds to the amazing “Locust Star”. 

Finally, the band’s willingness to part ways with Josh Graham and the visual experience is laudable. I’ve seen the band on the Word as Law, without visuals, as well as during the evolution of the projections from film to digital elements. The visual elements were extremely well selected, enhanced the live performance and became as exulated as the band’s music. This is why I find their decision to strip them away commendable. A band content with the status qua does not make that sort of decision

I’d like to leave you with footage from the show. The band is performing “At the Well” and the power of the performance does more to rebut the nattering of the perpetually discontent  than all of the preceding text.

– Captain of Games

Review: No Statik

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on January 4, 2013 by Magadh

No Statik Everywhere You Aren’t Looking Prank Records

NScoverNo Statik is made up of a lot of Bay Area scene vets, comprising members of bands such as Scrotum Grinder, Artimus Pyle, Conquest for Death, and my personal favorite punk band name of the last few years, Fuckface (along with numerous others).Their first 12”, entitled We All Die in the End and released late in 2011, featured seven cuts of uncompromising female fronted thrash in a vein similar to Filth, although more cleanly played and recorded. It’s good, but it’s not really anything to write home about in terms of things that one hasn’t heard a hundred times before.

The key to their further development was the final cut, which took the noisy thrash concept out to a length of nearly eight minutes. Their latest release, Everywhere You Aren’t Looking, seems to take this as a starting point, opening with a cut that runs to fourteen minutes in length. It is a strange, atmospheric affair, something you’d almost expect to hear more on a black metal record, or in the hardcore realm coming from the likes of Counterblast. I mention this because, although I am all for more variation in hardcore music, this does have its limits. One place where such limits become evident is the point at which one has a three minute song with an eleven minute intro. You could say that this walks a fine line between creativity and excess. You would be wrong. This stomps all over that line, then jumps over to side of excess and dances an Irish jig.

After doing so, No Statik return to type, dishing out a further nine cuts of the kind of blistering hardcore thrash that made them worth listening to begin with. Now, some of you may read this and claim that I’m sending out mixed (that is to say contradictory) messages. I accuse the band of being run of the mill, but then when they try to get outside the box I fault them for that. This is only superficially true. I like the idea on which that first cut it is based, and I bet that if they do it live it comes off a little bit better. But sitting here listening to it, I really got the feeling that it was a burst of creativity that had not been subjected to sufficient critical scrutiny. Let me just say too that the subsequent tunes on Everywhere You Aren’t Looking really rage, much harder in fact that the material on their first disc. I give them credit for trying something new, but there are some times when it I better to take a genre at face value and go with it, rather than trying to expand it beyond what its underlying ideas will sustain.


Review: Gut Feeling

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on January 2, 2013 by Magadh


Gut Feeling s/t EP

I’ve been slack lately, no doubt about it. Partly this had to do with a sojourn that I undertook to the wilds of the western high desert. While I was out there, of course, I caught a little plague that was going around in that part of the world. There is nothing that really puts the cap on time in the wilderness like a 103 degree fever and the feeling that one’s lungs have been stuffed with burning match sticks. Mrs. Mags and limped back here at a crawl, with the last few hours reduced to a painful, fevered psychedelic hellride. There were lots of laughs along the way, but I’ll spare you a minute accounting of the gory details.

I spent the first few days after I got back trying to recover, and it’s only in the last couple that I can actually sit up and get anything done. We’ve got a big backlog of things to write about, at least in terms of music to review. I think both the Captain and I are going to get out and see some shows. The same reasons that make this kind of a rarity for both of us also make it unwise to assume that it will happen until it actually happens, but that’s the plan anyways.

I’ve been meaning to get to Gut Feeling EP for a few weeks now, but just haven’t gotten around to it. This is one of those sort of serendipitous Bandcamp finds that happened for a somewhat trivial reason: I happened to like the cover. Perhaps there is a lesson here for bands. Why does having a decent cover matter, especially for a digital release? Because it might catch the eye of some old curmudgeon who otherwise wouldn’t take the 90 seconds to listen to one of your songs.

To return to the matter at hand, Gut Feeling are from North Carolina. They feature members of Catharsis, who if I recall correctly were like hardcore’s answer to Moonsorrow (i.e. their songs were really, really long). Catharsis were associated with CrimethInc, which if nothing else suggests a strong anarchist/autonomist ethic. Gut Feeling also have some connection to the deathmetal/hardcore crossover act Undying. I’d heard of them, but never heard them until I checked them out as background. They sound a bit like Black Dhalia Murder, except that they have the most guttural female vocalist that I have ever heard. Props to that.

Gut Feeling are much more in the straight hardcore sort of the vein. Younger people will probably have some different reference points, but to me they sounded like a slightly less earnest, but also darker version of Gorilla Biscuits. For what it’s worth, that is a pretty big compliment coming from me. The EP comprises four songs that are all tight and have a lot of punch. The arrangements have a good deal of variety while sticking well within that hardcore format. The singer sounds like a more restrained version of Anthony Civarelli, this continuing to validate GB as a point of comparison.

This music is a lot more straight forward that either of the precursor bands. For me, that’s a plus. Catharsis was great an all, but I never quite had the patience for their epics. Gut Feeling is direct, getting to the point with a minimum of fuss. The people doing this are long time vets, and they play with the kind power and precision that you would expect from this kind of pedigree. This could be one of those sort of project bands who doing bring out full records, but I see that they’re playing shows, so I hope that we can get a full cd out of them.