Monday, October 31, 2016

Sun Tzu Says

A year or so ago, I remember Doug telling me about going to see Sabaton play live with Amon Amarth. I think it surprised him just how much he enjoyed seeing them live. Interested to see what he was raving about, I made a half-hearted attempt to check them out on youtube. Meh. I didn't get it, and I quickly moved on.

Earlier this year, I was looking to check out some unheard Metal albums, so I pulled up wikipedia's list of all heavy albums for 2008, and went on a download spree over at soulseek. When I saw Sabaton's The Art Of War on the list, I thought of Doug and decided to give the band another chance.

Soon after downloading The Art Of War, Sabaton found a place in my playlists every few days. I couldn't believe how much I was enjoying them. I was soon declaring the end of the week to be Power Metal Friday, and prior to going over to the Community Center to play basketball, I would spend the morning getting pumped up with this stuff. The Art Of War was my jam.

Sabaton tend to be the subject of ridicule in the Metal world, and I can understand why some people would look down on their Power Metal cheese, but goddamn it, they are too much fun to ignore.

Vinyl still wan't very popular when The Art Of War was released in 2008, and therefore the only pressing on wax was done on Sweden's Black Lodge Records. Sure the record got reissued on vinyl by Nuclear Blast in 2014 with a "Re-Armed" pressing, complete with bonus songs, but compared to the original pressing, I just wasn't feeling it. They were more expensive, and didn't come around as often, but I was going to have to hold out for an original pressing. When a US seller posted the record for sale on Discogs, I jumped on the opportunity.

Saturday, October 29, 2016


My record collecting focus has been all over the place this year. Seems like every other week, the wind blows in a new direction and the flames of my obsession shift, and I start burning though another style of music. The year started with my continued Metal obsession, and then there was a slight shift to early 80's punk, and then I spent a few months listening to nothing but late 70's Punk before a steady diet of early 70's Rock. The latest wave of albums blasting through my daily playlists were strictly from 1996, and then I started branching out to other Hardcore albums from that 90's time period.

After spending the past few years in such a Metal state of mind, it felt weirdly refreshing to start dusting off those old Hardcore tunes. Out of nowhere, I was getting charged up and chasing Hardcore vinyl again.

Earlier this year, Marcus posted a couple of Reach The Sky records over on his blog, and it got me thinking about how long it had been since I'd heard this band. It planted the seed that I should finally chase these pieces of vinyl. During my 1996 obsession, a few months later, the seed grew to full fruition, and I knew that it was time to make a move.

Man, I saw this band so many times in the late 90's/early 00's. They were always fun to see live, with tons of stage diving. Yet, here we are, over 15 years later and I'm finally picking the vinyl for the first time.

314 pressed on green vinyl.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

First Daze Here

Pentagram have had a long and turbulent history. While the band didn't release their first album until 1985, they had still been active and kicking around in one form or another since the early 70's. The First Daze Here collection brings some of those early recordings to light. While this album of rarities was originally released back in 2002, the 2016 release is remastered with expanded liner notes.

As cool as this release was when I first heard it back in 2010, I never really paid it much attention. I knew that the Pentagram heads loved this stuff, but for one reason or another, I only gave it a few spins and put in on the back burner. Listening to this now, and I'm blown away with how great this record is. Makes you think about how different this band's history would have been had they got a lucky turn and some attention and push from a major label...or maybe it would have just ruined them, and we wouldn't have these gems to dig through today.

Limited to 500 on a cool looking white/gold colored vinyl.

In addition to the expanded liner notes, this 2016 reissue also comes with a bonus 7 inch.

Back in '72, Pentagram briefly changed their name to Macabre and released a promo 7 inch, which gets it's first official release here. Great stuff all around.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

More Or Nothing Less

There aren't many bands that I'll bother chasing every pressing for these days, but Mindset is still one of them. Possibly the best Hardcore band since The First Step broke up.

Going out with a three song 7 inch worked for Youth Of Today, and Mindset follows in those footsteps.

Where We Stand. No Regrets. Everything. Nothing Less.

Different b-side labels for the second pressing. 250 pressed on gold, and 750 on black.

Friday, October 21, 2016

One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Sac

In the pre-internet days of my youth, I had to base most of my music purchases on either the record cover artwork or the band name. If it had the possibility to offend or disgust, chances are, I would end up pulling from the shelf in the store, and take it right up to the counter to purchase. I had no idea who Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, Dead Kennedys, or Death were...but I knew one thing, my parents were going to hate it, and that was good enough for me. Same deal with Butthole Surfers. I had no idea what to expect when I first checked out their Locust Abortion Technician album back in '87, but I knew that none of my peers would dare check it out. I left them with their shitty Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi records, and took a chance.

Man...I listened to some weird shit from time to time, but the Butthole Surfers paled everything else in comparison. This stuff was so off the wall and fucked up that seventeen year old me loved it.

It has been a long time since I've been interested in listening to my old Butthole Surfers CDs, but after a recent obsession with Big Black, I felt the urge to dig into some other music from that time. Stuff that was a little removed from what I normally listen to these days. I added a couple of Butthole albums to the iPod, fully expecting to give it one listen and then get bored and dump it. But much like my experience with Big Black, surprisingly, I was really digging it. After repeat listens of Psychic...Powerless...Another Man's Sac and Rembrandt Pussyhorse, I suddenly found myself checking Discogs for the pricing of their vinyl.

Once I got in and started looking at the pressing info, I noticed that Touch & Go pressings of the first two full lengths included a limited run on colored vinyl. Even though I haven't so much as thought about playing these records for the past 15+ years, suddenly, the common black vinyl option was out the window, and now I was ready to open my wallet and pay good money to get the colored wax.

As I was picking up a $5 Cast Iron Hike record from a Discogs seller, I decided to browse what else they had available in an attempt to possibly beef up my order beyond one little 7 inch. While I was looking around, I noticed they also had the clear vinyl for Psychic...Powerless...Another Man's Sac available. So here I was, planning on a quick and cheap purchase, and somehow it snowballed to over a $55 total. Take me Mexican caravan...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Move Thru Turnstile

I own six copies of Pressure To Succeed, and eight different pressings of Step 2 Rhythm. Shit was really starting to get out of control in the record collecting game, and it seemed like some labels were looking to take advantage and milk things for all they were worth. I'd had enough so I stepped away and cut ties with my obsession of needing to buy every single pressing that came around.

While Turnstile jumped over to Pop Wig, a new label didn't change the flood of colored vinyl for their new record. With five different colors hitting the webstores, I refused to play and just grabbed one copy.

Don't make the mistake of judging my love of this record based on the number of copies that I bought, because Turnstile still rage. Move Thru Me continues where Non Stop Feeling left off, and you can't help but move to this shit.

The more things change, the more they stay the same as Turnstile keep their tradition of shitty looking record covers going. Gross.

Yellow vinyl is only available through Deathwish. 500 pressed.

Monday, October 17, 2016

High Motivator

I had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, onto the High Spirits bandwagon by Doug and Sandwell. For the longest time, I just didn't understand the attraction...but once it clicked, I was all in, quickly picking up their last couple of albums.

So when I heard that High Spirits was releasing a new record for 2016, I was primed and ready. As soon as pre-orders went up over at High Roller, I jumped on it.

I'm hearing people getting caught up in Motivator not measuring up to the last one, You Are Here, but I don't know, this new one is pretty damn fun in it's own right. Great traditional Heavy Metal sound from the early 80's, with tons of infectious melody.

Limited to 150 on clear with blue splatter, and a sweet looking patch for your battle vest.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Watch It Burn

It is funny how you can go years without having the slightest desire to listen to a band, and then after a little taste, you suddenly can't get enough and things boil over to a full on obsession. Such was the case with Cast Iron Hike.

After I started to fully lose myself into my 1996 playlist a month ago, my main focus was picking up records from that time period...and that bled over into the 1997 full length from Cast Iron Hike.

I really wanted the colored vinyl for Watch It Burn, but I was coming up empty on eBay and the only copies available on Discogs were from overseas sellers. I was desperate, so I tried a general Google search as a last resort...and that was when I discovered that Victory had some available. Wait, this was released 20 years ago...510 pressed on purple vinyl...and it is still available in the Victory store? How is this possible? They may want to remove that "only two per customer" limit now. If someone wants to buy ten copies, I say let them go wild.

This album rules so much. Bouncing around on the internet I soon found a video that was made for the title track, that I had no idea about. Then from there, I ended up devouring a bunch of live videos on youtube, and was disappointed to discover that the band had just played a reunion show in Massachusetts a few months ago. Man, if my Cast Iron Hike obsession had kicked in earlier, I might have made it down to see them live again. Poor timing.

Who buys from Victory Records in 2016? Apparently I do.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


The latest edition to the string of Justin DeTore bands is Sumerlands. Like Magic Circle and Stone Dagger, with Sumerlands, we keep things firmly rooted in Heavy Metal.

Doug tried to turn me on to this band when they released their demo a couple of years ago. I didn't really pay it much attention...I don't know...maybe because it was only available as a digital download, I never considered them a legit band. With their full length due to arrive from Relapse, I knew that it was time for me to finally heed the call.

As usual, Doug knows what he is talking about. Solid Heavy Metal from some old Hardcore kids.

Gold with blue splatter is limited to 300.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Slade Alive!

As a kid in America, my only exposure to Slade was through Quiet Riot covering their song Cum On Feel The Noize. At thirteen years old, my affection for Quiet Riot was pretty damn quick...and while they might have played a big part of my gateway into Heavy Metal, they didn't have much staying power with me, and I left them behind as I soon discovered Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Jumping off the Quiet Riot bandwagon meant that I never really put much stock in Slade, and never gave them a second thought. Even ten years ago, when I started digging into early 70's Hard Rock, and was looking to discover long lost bands, the Slade name still continued to be overlooked.

Last year, while hanging out at my friend Jeff's house, I noticed that he had a Deluxe CD version of the first Slade live album, Slade Alive. He had some high praise for the band, so when I got home later that night, I fired up Soulseek, and downloaded a copy.

My first couple of listens left me underwhelmed. The album seemed to be too loose and wild, and I couldn't get my head around the songs. It sounded more like a party than a live album. I didn't like it.

Opinions change. As I was deep in my early 70's obsession over the Summer, I saw the Slade Alive album in my 1972 playlist. It had been a year since I'd given it a spin, and I figured that I'd give it one more shot. I expected to still not care for it, and that I'd most likely just end up deleting it to make room on my iPod. It's funny...everything that I didn't like about it the first time I heard it, was exactly what sold me on it this time around. There was so much energy behind these songs! Sure the majority of the album was made up of covers, but it didn't matter as the band made them their own. The passion behind these songs, and the grit in Noddy Holder's voice, could not be denied anymore, and I listened to this thing daily for a couple of weeks. When the obsession hits you this hard, it is time to step up and buy the vinyl. Original UK pressing, of course.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Rock The Fuck On

Because I've become a jaded old man, I had no fire for the new Angel Du$t record. A part of it may have been because they were no longer with React!, but if I'm going to be honest, as much as I enjoyed their last album, I just never feel compelled to give it another spin...hell, it has been nearly two years since I've last listened to A.D.. So with the new album ready to drop, I made assumptions that it was going to be too polished and poppy, I just didn't care to give it any of my time.

Like most new Hardcore records these days, I needed some serious prompting from friends to bother with it. This time around the push came from Sandwell. I was knee deep in Summer Punk tunes and with Mark's praise, I figured that maybe it was time to give the new album a listen.

Oh damn. Once again I'm proven wrong, because this record is a that album title gets nominated for the best name ever.

When I was picking up a few records from Deathwish recently, I noticed they still had the exclusive red vinyl available, so I grabbed one. Limited to 500 on red vinyl.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Doomed Wretch

My previous post was for the new Sabaton record. Uplifting with their melody and positive energy. For this post, we have the debut from Wretch...which is the exact opposite. Heavy and crushing with their Doom. Don't you dare smile...don't you fucking dare.

You will find nothing "nice" here. Nothing to brighten your day. This is Karl Simon exorcising some demons after the collapse of The Gates Of Slumber in the wake of the death of his band mate, Jason McCash. This is the end result of of that pain and loss. This is raw emotion. This is Doom.

I was a big fan of The Gates Of Slumber, so I was looking forward to what Karl and company would deliver with Wretch. As soon as preorders went up over at Bad Omen, I was in to get the limited pressing.

Only 80 pressed on white vinyl.

Monday, October 03, 2016

First Stand Of Sabaton

Despite being around for the past ten years, it wasn't until early 2016 that I first gave Sabaton a chance. This wasn't my typical brand of Metal, and as much as I wanted to write it off an ignore it, those beautiful Power Metal hooks were too good to ignore. Trust me, no one was more surprised than I was at how much I loved what I heard from this band.

So while I've downloaded a few Sabaton albums over the past 10 months, the release of The Last Stand was my first time to experience the excitement of a new release.

Admittedly, the first single left me a little underwhelmed and I started to think that maybe they had lost some of that spark that drew me to them initially. After downloading the new album, and letting the entire thing sink in, I fell in fucking love. Sure the trilogy of The Lost Battalion/The Last Stand/The Last Battle has my eyes crossing in confusion with the similarities of song titles, but overall, this album serves it's intended have me throwing my arms in the air and singing along like a metal madman..."When the Winged Hussars arrive!".

It is going to be difficult to tell where this album is going to land on my Year End list, but right now it seems to climb higher and higher with each listen.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Stuck in '96: Part 6 - Ensign

The final piece in my 1996 spending spree.

When I started this obsession, I was surprised at how many pieces of vinyl I didn't own for this time period. For the most part, if it was released on CD, that was my format of choice. So on my mission to right past wrongs, I expected to sweep through eBay and Discogs, and pull in a solid number of records. Much to my surprise, I found that people seemed to be holding on tight to their vinyl, and I ended up adding more to my Discogs Want List than I actually purchased. In the end, all I had to show from my shopping spree was a handful of cheap 7 inch EPs.

Ensign were one of those bands that seemed huge back in 96/97. I remember seeing them at The Middle East in Boston, and everyone just went off for them. But some time around their second album, people just stopped giving a shit....or maybe it was just me. As time went on, I kinda stopped paying attention to Ensign, and I forgot how good they once were. Revisiting this first 7 inch was a great wake up call. Man, this thing is great.

I could have gone with the more limited pressing on grey vinyl, but the blue looked too good to pass up, so I went with that one.

449 pressed on blue.