Monday, December 31, 2018

2018: Let There Be Records

Looking back at 2018, it seems like an odd year. I don't know if there was a whole lot of focus on what I was collecting, and I seemed to be all over the map with what I was chasing. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun buying records and adding them to the collection, but the year feels like a blur, and I don't know where it went.

Numbers don't mean shit when it fails to capture the full picture, and that is exactly where we fall in 2018. I mean, I ended the year adding 174 new records to the collection, which is an all time low since I started tracking this stuff back in 2007. But this really only represents the records that I was able to get up on the blog, and because I got lazy with keeping this thing up, I still have another 40+ records sitting in piles that I haven't gotten around to properly cataloging and writing about here. Shit, some of those records in the blog backlog go back to August. I guess I've been more motivated to buy them, but just not deal with them when them once they arrive. As we move into 2019, I already have a bunch of ground to make up, so hopefully, I can knock off a ton of posts to start the year, and get back on track.

Yeah, I bought some big records in 2018, but it feels like it pales in comparison to years past. I think that this is because of where my head was at musically. My head wasn't in the game to chase hardcore heavy hitters, like I'd done previous years, so looking back at 2018 it feels like I fell short and I'm lacking some huge milestone purchases. Oh well, it was still a blast chasing early 80's metal records, and I was still able to put together a solid Top 5 from 2018.

1. AC/DC 'Let There Be Rock' Aussie pressing - From the moment that I discovered that the Australian pressing for Let There Be Rock had a different cover than what I was familiar with here in The States, it shot to the top of my Want List. First pressings of these AC/DC records on the Albert label are no joke, and I'm thankful that I was able to add another to the collection this year.

2. Dio 'Strange Highways' UK Vertigo first press - I did not expect this one to come along this year, but when one came on my Discogs radar, I couldn't resist taking a shot at it. I only have a few big holes in my Dio collection, and filling this one was a big accomplishment for me.

3. Floorpunch 'Fast Times At The Jersey Shore' on green vinyl - I don't think that I really got down with chasing big purchases for hardcore records, and the green vinyl isn't as crucial as the white pressing, but it sure felt good to finally have a copy of the Floorpunch album in the collection.

4. Dokken 'Breakin' The Chains' original German Carrere pressing - I was fucking obsessed with early 80's metal this year, and it was a blast revisiting that era when I first started to discover heavy metal. I ended up having a surprise love affair with the first Dokken album, and we had all kinds of fun getting reacquainted with each other. This record may have been the one that I had the most fun listening to this past year, and it became my mission to get my hands on the original pressing that had artwork that was different than the version that I'd grown up with.

5. My obsession with One Up - I was obsessed with One Up records early this year, and once I started buying their records, I couldn't stop until I had them all. It didn't take a lot of money to scoop up the five 7 inches that I needed, but man, it was fucking fun.

I haven't been happy with the look of my Top 10 lists for a couple years now, so I'm changing it up this year with a new layout to display it. Hopefully the text isn't too small to read on these things.

It was a good year for hardcore, and it hurt to have to cut some of those new records from my Top 10. The top half of the list was easy to lock in, but man, the other spots were tough to nail down.

On the metal side of things, the records felt like they made less of an impact. No doubt there was some great stuff here, but as we got to the last couple of spots, those albums were more of a shoulder shrug if they were included or not.

Overall, 2018 was a solid year of record collecting, and even though I have a ton of posts to catch up with my blog backlog, I'm already setting collecting goals for 2019 and making mental notes on what I want to chase after. Shit is going to be fun.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

To My Grave

I've been blogging like mad lately, in an attempt to get all the new records for 2018 posted up here before the end of the year. I finally finished and posted the last 2018 release yesterday, and was expecting to get one day off before I dove into my end of the year wrap up...and then the new Protester record landed in my mailbox, giving me one more record to write about before we close out the year.

I had no idea that there was a new Protester record on the way, and I was kind of surprised when I saw a couple posts for it on Instagram recently. I didn't know what was going on, so I let it sit for a couple of weeks before I bothered looking into when it was coming out and who was releasing it. Once I starting searching for info online, that was when I found the video they shot for Watch Them Fall...and I loved it.

I quickly headed over to New Absolute Records to order a copy, and was crushed to discover that they had the limited gold vinyl listed as out of stock. With only the black vinyl available, I still ordered one to get the album into my collection. A couple of days after placing my order, I was surprised to find an email from someone, saying that they were packing up my Protester record, and they wanted to know if I was straight edge. I had a glimmer of hope that this was related to the gold vinyl, and replied back to let them know that I've proudly been straight edge for the past 28 years. I had no email response, but I was pleasantly surprised when the record arrived yesterday.

So excited to see that gold piece of paper with my name on it. This is possibly the coolest insert for any record...ever.

This album is killer, and even though I've only had time to give it one spin, I can tell that I'm going to have to go back and redo the Top 10 list that I made in preparation for my year end recap.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Used Future

I've got time to get in one final new release from 2018, before I get ready to close things out with my End Of The Year post.

At one time I really liked The Sword, but when they released their High Country album back in 2015, I kind of soured on them. The album seemed to mark a change of direction from the band, moving away from their doom metal sound, and I resisted it, and refused to give it a chance. Fuck that maturing bullshit. I wanted them to stay the same.

Given how resistant I was to the last record, I'm not sure what made me download a copy of their new album, Used Future. I gave the songs a listen, and surprisingly, I didn't want to just delete it from my iPod. I hung on to it, and occasionally would give it a spin, and it slowly grew on me. Sure this isn't a doomy as their first few records, but man, these are some chill tunes.

I love the look of this cover art, and the red vinyl is a nice touch.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Last Heard From Seger In '67

A couple of years ago, my friend Jeff purchased some Michigan garage rock comp that he'd found, and discovered some songs from Bob Seger back in '66 and '67. I'm a huge fan of early Seger, so I was thrilled to hear those old, raw tunes. I wasn't interested in that double album comp that Jeff had, but I still wanted those songs on vinyl, so I hit Discogs to find out what the story was. It looked like my only options were some old original 45's, but they weren't originally released with picture sleeves, so I wasn't too interested...and then there was a bootleg LP that collected all those old songs, but since it was an unofficial release, it wasn't available on Discogs.

A couple weeks back I was messing around online, and discovered that all the Bob Seger and the Last Heard material was recently released on the Heavy Music compilation. Perfect timing! I checked my local store, and they had it in stock, so I quickly snatched it up.

This is some cool shit. The songs are just what I'm looking for when I want some dirty late 60's rock, and the packaging gives a full history of the band. Great stuff.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Witness To A Vinyl Pressing

The one record that I wanted for Black Friday Record Store Day, and basically the only reason that I bothered to leave the house that morning, was the Only Living Witness album. Needless to say, I was disappointed to find that my local store did not have it in stock when I got there that morning. In a panic, I thought that it had sold out and that I'd missed the opportunity, but in the end it just appeared to have been delayed. A couple weeks later, after checking online daily for the Bull Moose inventory, I could see the record was finally listed in stock, and I rushed out to grab a copy.

Originally released back in 1993, the Prone Mortal Form album from Only Living Witness was only available on CD...and then it was bundled with their second album, Innocents, in 2008, as a double LP package. While I really liked the band's first 7 inch, honestly, I never really bothered with anything after that. I don't think that I even bothered listening to Prone Mortal Form until I downloaded a copy around 2009, and even then, I didn't spend much time with it. Still, a couple years back, I absolutely fell in love with the Miltown record, and since Jonah sings for both bands, I figured that maybe it was time to revisit that first Only Living Witness album.

Yeah, this is a really good album, and at times I really get that vibe that Jonah was putting out a few later with Miltown. I'm really happy to finally have a copy of this.

800 pressed on this orange and purple split colored vinyl.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Dead Kennedys '78

While I was out for my Black Friday Record Store Day shopping, I was in a record buying mood, so I added one more to the stack before heading to the counter to checkout.

I had seen the vinyl pressing of the Dead Kennedys 1978 rehearsal tape on the list of RSD releases, and filed it away as something that I might grab when I was out trying to track down the new pressing of the Only Living Witness record on Black Friday. I was a bit hesitant to bother with it, as I figured that the recording quality was probably sketchy at best, but when a saw the track list, and it showed a few song titles that I didn't recognize, I figured that I'd roll the dice and take the chance.

Yeah, this recording is raw and rough, and while it was cool to hear some long lost Dead Kennedys songs, it is tough sitting through this entire record. Cool to have, but not necessary.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Live From the Astroturf

Sometimes Record Store Day can surprise me. Yes, there can be a lot of garbage that hits the racks on this day, but every once in a while, I unexpectedly find myself excited for one of the RSD releases. I had reviewed the list of Record Store Day releases for Black Friday, and while there were a couple of records that I motivated me to get to the store when the doors opened at 9:00 that morning, the live Alice Cooper record was not on that list.

I headed to the store early on Black Friday because I did not want to miss out on the vinyl pressing of the Only Living Witness album, Prone Mortal Form. This was the one RSD record that I wanted, so I was really disappointed when I got to the store and found that they did not have a single copy in the rack.

In my search through the bins, desperately hoping that maybe I'd just overlooked it, I spotted the new Alice Cooper album, Live From The Astroturf. I wasn't planning on buying this, but coming up short with the Only Living Witness left me feeling incomplete, so on a whim, I grabbed this to fill the emptiness in my that reflective silver foil cover, with the pink OBI style strip, and title font that's a throw back to the Love It To Death album, it all looked so damn good, and it was too much to resist.

This live set was recorded back in 2015, when Alice Cooper made a "surprise" appearance at book signing for original bass player, Dennis Dunaway. Original guitarist, Michael Bruce, and drummer Neal Smith were there with Dunaway and had planned a short live set of classics from their time with the Alice Cooper Band, but shit went to the next level when Alice showed up and joined his old bandmates on the stage. This was absolutely historic, and thankfully the entire set was captured on tape, and is finally seeing the light of day with this vinyl release.

I was happy to buy a copy of this, but as soon as I started to open the shrink wrap and go through all the packaging for this record, I started to appreciate it more and more. While the price tag was a little high, it was well worth it for the absolute quality of the packaging and all the extras. Along with the OBI strip that has trading cards printed on the flipside, there is a giant double sided poster and a nice booklet that includes some writing and plenty of, that translucent pink vinyl is fucking beautiful.

Absolutely amazing package. Limited to 3,000 and foil stamp numbered on the back cover.

Friday, December 21, 2018

RSD: Record Store Dio

I've never been a fan of the Black Friday Record Store Day. Double dipping on this holiday that was already getting the stink of money making commercialism, instead of an honest support for record stores, was a bit too much for me, and the addition of the Black Friday holiday was not something that I looked forward to. Still, they sucked me back in with a few records that I couldn't pass up.

No matter how I feel towards the Black Friday RSD, when I saw that there was a new pressing for a Dio single this year, it was obvious that I was going to have to get to the store and get my hands on one. After the fun of last year's "Dio-cember" celebration, when I pulled in a good haul of Dio records, I was excited to add something new to the collection.

Sure this thing looks nice, but it is a picture disc, and it sounds as bad as you'd expect a picture disc to sound.

I don't understand why this is packaged and promoted as the "35th anniversary of Holy Diver", because the real selling point is the b-side song, Electra. As the last song that the Dio band ever recorded, and was looking to have it appear on the next Dio album, which I believe was going to be Magica II, this song was the focus for me here. The song has shown up on a couple of compilations since it was recorded, but this is the first time it has seen a vinyl pressing...again, it is too bad it has to be on picture disc. Still, I'm always happy to expand my Dio collection!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Damned In The Metal Church

When Mike Howe reunited with Kurdt Vanderhoof for another run with Metal Church a couple years ago, I was blown away with how great they still sounded. No doubt...they could still deliver so solid metal. Given that it had been 20 years since Howe had been in a band and touring, I kind of figured that this would be a short lived reunion. I thought they would get together, have some fun recording a new album...maybe tour a bit, and then Mike Howe would go back to the life he'd been living and that would be it. I was very happy to be wrong when I heard that they were recording a new album earlier this year.

Now, I really loved the last Metal Church album with Howe, XI. It was definitely one of my favorite metal albums in 2016, so I was curious to see if the band could pull off that same magic this time around.

The album was just released a couple weeks ago, and now I've got to keep jamming this record to see how it stacks up before the end of the year. It is going to be tough to figure where Damned If You Do lands when I'm putting my list together, but I might be enjoying this album more than their last one.

I was excited for a new Metal Church record, so I dove in head first and ordered the deluxe pressing straight from the label.

The packaging for this pressing is so good...with all kinds of nice extras. Such a nice job with the inner sleeves, lyric booklet, OBI style strip, and a bonus print of the cover artwork...this thing is total quality, front to back.

Numbered out of 500 for this limited collectors edition.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

I Swing This Sword

Mindforce came very close to taking the top spot as my favorite hardcore record in 2017. That 7 inch impresses the fuck out of me to this day with it's killer crossover sound. That record was I was excited when I started to hear word that Triple B was going to be releasing an album from the band earlier this year.

Oh hell yes! This album delivers and hits all those crossover sweet spots with some killer riffs and at times the guitar tone sounds like Slayer. Damn near perfect.

Somehow I missed the word that preorders were up for this record, and by the time I got in there, the limited splatter vinyl that is limited to 100 was sold out. Initially I was bummed, but the bone/bronze swirl looks great, so it's all good. 300 pressed on this colored vinyl.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Revolution Sunstroke

2018 was shaping up to be a good year for hardcore records, and surprisingly, I found myself in an adventurous mood and looking to check out something new. Someone that I follow on Instagram posted a picture of a record for a band named Sunstroke, calling it a record of the year contender, so I decided to follow up and check it out.

Comparisons were being made about the Sunstroke record having that Revolution Summer sound, and I guess that is valid, but to my ears, it reminds me more of those early to mid-90's years...when hardcore bands seemed to be following their own path and making their own sounds.

There have been a few bands that are a bit off my beaten path, but all falling into that similar style, that have popped up on my radar recently. Future Waves haven't seen a vinyl release, and the Moonkisser 12 inch sold out before I even knew it existed, so I was happy to grab a physical copy of this new Sunstroke record. One out of three...for now.

88 pressed on gold vinyl.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

One More For The Road

I start off each year with a list of ten records that I loosely hope to pick up during the year. It isn't a goal that is set in stone, and I don't have the mindset to get them all over those 12 is just a tool to keep a few important records on my radar, and with 2018 coming to a close, I was satisfied to have crossed of half them. Apparently, I wasn't done though, and I made a run at one more.

I've got a decent Priest collection, but with Rocka Rolla such a glaring hole, I decided to add the UK Gull pressing to my Want List for 2018. I'd made half-assed attempts to chase this record over the year, but each time I'd walk away empty handed. I recently gave those Rocka Rolla songs a spin, and holy fuck, they really hit me hard. I know this album tends to get overlooked in the Judas Priest catalog, but I was loving it as I queued these songs up for repeat listens. Yeah, it was time to get serious and revisit the available options on Discogs again.

It is tough to find a copy of this record where the sleeve is still in great condition, and after exchanging a few messages with the seller, and reviewed the photos that he sent, I was sold.

The sound on this thing? Fucking Christ, this album sounds amazing. The riffs are heavy and powerful, and while the album isn't as good as the next three Priest records, I have no problem with grouping it alongside Sad Wings Of Destiny, Sin After Sin and Stained Class, as one of the strongest runs of Heavy Metal albums ever.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

X bystander X

There have already been a number of solid hardcore records released this year, but let's add one more to the pile with Bystander.

I'm wary of older hardcore dudes that seem to come out of retirement and put together new bands ten or more years after their original heyday. I'm not doubting their sincerity or passion, but there are times when the whole affair just falls flat.

With Greg Bennick from Trial picking up the mic again, and fronting Bystander, I just had a feeling that this was going to be good. I was not disappointed.

This record is great, and Greg spits lyrics sounding like we are still back in the late 90's.

The packaging for this is very well done, with the fold out cover that is embossed with a nice big "X". 150 pressed on baby blue colored vinyl.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Sword Woman

A couple years ago, I started following Sarah Kitteringham on Instagram, and shortly after, I happened to see her at a show in Boston for Saint Vitus and Skull...and then all of a sudden she was a part of the Banger TV crew, and posting up videos of record and tape reviews. She was very passionate about music, and had a great attitude and video personality, so when she announced that her band posted their demo on bandcamp, I was interested to check it out.

Smoulder have a great epic doom sound, and I was really enjoying the three song demo. When the band pressed two of those songs to a 7 inch, I didn't hesitate to order a copy.

Damn, these songs are so good. So glad that the band gave them a proper release on vinyl. I certainly hope there is a follow up!

Hand numbered, with 106 on red vinyl, and another 217 on black.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Slough Feg 7 inch

It has been four long years since the last Slough Feg album, and my introduction to the band. It was cool to discover them at the time, and dig through some of the eight albums they had released prior to Digital Resistance. The band plays some pretty fucking cool traditional metal, with their own unique sound, so it was exciting news to discover that they band was releasing a new single in 2018.

I believe that Slough Feg are recording a new LP, and this single is just a teaser of what is to come...and if that is the case, I'm excited to hear what they deliver in 2019, because this New Organon song is excellent...just Slough Feg being Slough Feg.

The b-side cover song from The Police is kind of cool, but really, I just want more Slough Feg songs.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

None More Orange

I loved Kid Dynamite in the late 90's, and when the singer started a new band, and None More Black released their first album, File Under Black, in 2003, I quickly grabbed the CD. I enjoyed it at the time, and gave it the occasional spin, but when I dusted it off earlier this year to revisit it, that's when it really hooked me.

I hadn't thought about this album for years, but suddenly, I could not stop listening to it. This album was so damn infectious, I needed to add this to the record collection...and since I was loving it so much, I wanted the limited color vinyl pressing. The problem is that this was released on Fat Wreck, and trying to collect colored vinyl from that label is a serious challenge. My first stop at Discogs showed that not a single copy was available, so I put in on my Want List, and waited for someone to post one for sale. Thankfully, my patience paid off, and eventually a seller listed one...and at a great I quickly bought it.

218 pressed on orange vinyl.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Strike One And Two Of The Beast

Trevor William Church has been a man on a mission. In addition to the two records that he released this year with his band Haunt, the man cranked out 32 songs, spread over eight EPs for his band, Beastmaker.

Originally released only on Bandcamp over the summer this year, with each EP being priced at a dollar, it was too much Beastmaker for me to take in all at once. While I did download all eight EPs, I only loaded half of them to iTunes. I mean I like Beastmaker, but come on, 32 songs at once was going to be overkill.

The songs themselves are cool little slices of doom. Nothing mind blowing, or drawing me back for repeat listens, but they are still pretty cool.

The best part about these EPs is the artwork. Those covers look amazing, and I'd probably buy them for that alone. So when Trevor took it upon himself to press the first two EPs, and combine them on a 12 inch record, I jumped in to grab one.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Raise Hell

These days, I do not expect to get very excited over buying live albums, and most of the time they are easy to just ignore. When I heard that there was a new live Anthrax album up for preorder over at No Remorse Records out of Greece, you would have thought that I would have just shrugged my shoulders in indifference and walked away...yet, I was curious to see which tour this Chile On Hell live album was from, so I thought that I'd give it a little look.

I wasn't aware, but apparently Chile On Hell was originally released on Bluray and DVD back in 2014, capturing the band during their Worship Music/Anthems tour. I had been underwhelmed with the Worship Music album, and never cared about the Anthems cover album, but I was kind of interested to hear the "new" songs live...and once I saw that Night Of The Vinyl Dead was releasing this for the first time on vinyl, I immediately placed my order with little thought paid to the $60 price tag it was going to cost for the album and overseas shipping.

I'm a huge fan of the Night Of The Vinyl Dead label, and they never fail to impress me with the quality of packaging for the records they press. The NOTVD releases are usually unique and limited, and in most cases, you better move quick if you want one...or risk paying top dollar off Discogs or eBay down the road. The two Dio albums that NOTVD did carry ridiculous price tags these days, and it is going to cost me stupid money for the Magica record when I finally make a move for one.

So even though I knew the price paid now was going to be a bit high, I didn't want to risk trying to grab it later, and as soon as it arrived, I knew that I'd made the right choice.

With a nice gatefold sleeve, packaged in a die-cut slipcase cover, this thing looks gorgeous...even the colored vinyl looks great. You can tell that this label puts a lot of care into what they do. Impressive.

Hand numbered out of 700.

The album itself is pretty cool, with a number of Anthrax classics...although there is absolutely zero reason for the band to play I'm The Man live ever was funny back in 1987, but seriously, let it go...and while we are at it, can we talk about dropping Antisocial from the set as well. Still, these two songs aside, this is a solid live album, and it is cool to hear some of the newer songs along side older classics that I was excited to see listed here, like In My World and Medusa. Solid.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Dark Days Ahead

Iron Reagan have released two EPs this this point, I'm not feeling confident that I'll be able to pick up their split with Gatecreeper before the end of the year, but at least I was able to grab the Dark Days Ahead one sided 12 inch.

Iron Reagan records are always a good time, and this quick blast of five songs in eight minutes is no exception. The band still lets it rip with that Crossover sound. I was surprised to see this record released on the Pop Wig label, which is home to bands like Angel Du$t and Turnstile...and while Iron Reagan is from that same area, it still seemed like an odd fit...but then again, the label seems to have an odd roster.

200 pressed on yellow vinyl, with an etched b-side that is impossible to photograph.