Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Blamed - "21"

The Blamed - 21
1994, Tooth & Nail

1. Abuse
2. Help Yourself
3. Testimony
4. Drunk
5. Separation
6. A State of...
7. From Me To You
8. Rainbow
9. 3 A.M.
10. God Is Alive
11. Walkabout
12. The Ballad of the Blamed

This album is one of those treasures from the early days of Tooth & Nail... before they got all corporate and everything. The Blamed are raw and gritty punk rock with little polish. The production is similarly rough but in this case it actually helps the music. There's a definite Crucified vibe here but that's probably because Jim Chaffin is the drummer. I'm not sure it quite reaches the heights of some of the Crashdog albums in terms of genuine punk - but it's a good, fun album with some good hooks. "The Ballad of the Blamed" is an interesting song in that it's this melodic, acoustic number that really shows that the band has some genuine chops when it comes to their instruments. They released a second album called Frail but for some reason I never liked it.

Useless Fact: The Blamed contributed a song to the Sweet Family Music Stryper "tribute" comp.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Undercover - "Forum"

Undercover - Forum
1994, Brainstorm

1. Spill
2. The Moon and the Blue Around
3. Forum (Lullaby)
4. Symbol
5. Carmenita
6. Whoa, Nelly
7. Pocket Full of Money
8. The Overlook (Hosanna)
9. (Tell Me) Everything About You
10. Union

I remember getting Forum from Arrowhead Christian Bookstore. Back in the day Arrowhead (which was about an hour away from my town), was like a Mecca for music - second only to Kingdom Bound. Their selection was a lot bigger than my hometown store and so I was always excited to go there. This time however, I either had everything there or there just wasn't anything new - except Forum - which I wasn't wild about. I remember how disappointed I was at the selection that day. It was also really warm that year for fall and that made me mad too because I get mad about stupid things.

You can probably guess how this review is going to go at this point. Originally, I wasn't thrilled with this album. Except "Spill" and "The Moon and the Blue Around" which is... I don't know what style it is but I loved it then and I love it now. The rest of the album is pretty diverse with a lot of acoustic songs and some country influences. We've also got an electric version of "Symbol" from the Brow Beat compilation. So yeah... I like it a lot better now except "Whoa, Nelly" which I still don't care for but I couldn't really tell you why.

Useless Fact: I believe this was the band's last album. They came out with another one called I Rose Falling but I've heard it's not that good.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Bent Knee - "Land Animal"

Bent Knee - Land Animal
2017, Inside Out

1. Terror Bird
2. Holes
3. Holy Ghost
4. Insides In
5. These Hands
6. Land Animal
7. Time Deer
8. Belly Side Up
9. The Well
10. Boxes

Well, well, well... my You Tube algorithms have doth blessed me. Bent Knee is kind of an enigma. Sure, you can just call them prog rock but there's so much going on here. There's jazz, rock, alt-rock, a dash of metal... just so many different influences. Odd time changes here and there. They almost remind me of Hot Pink Turtle in that they seem to be able to take a bunch of seemingly disparate pieces and put them all together into something weird and wonderful that works as a whole. Courtney Swain's vocals are a highlight as well. She's got great range and can wail like a banshee but also be quiet and subtle. I would not be surprised if this showed up on my "Picks of 2017" list. If you buy this I can guarantee that it will be the strangest, most unique thing you hear this year. The only thing I don't like is the seven or so minutes of dead silence at the end of "Boxes." Why? You can't just end the song? Just end the song. There doesn't seem to be any reason to have that.

Useless Fact: The band released the entire album on You Tube before it released officially.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Undercover - "Devotion"

Undercover - Devotion
1992, Brainstorm

1. Work It Out
2. Man, Oh Man
3. Sea of Tranquility
4. Purple Flower
5. Devotion
6. Promenade
7. Where I Should Be
8. Dark Night
9. All That I Am
10. So Wonderful

A long, long time ago...back when the world was new, Undercover's Devotion inspired my youth group's logo. See, there's a song called "Purple Flower" on here and along with the mention of a purple flower in The Choir's "If I Had a Yard" we thought there was some sort of something going on. So a purple flower was our logo for "The Hippy Youth Group." Named that because a bunch of other kids from another district were like, "look at those hippies over there." Yes, I know Circle Slide pre-dated Devotion by two years so there couldn't have possibly been any correlation. No need to send letters.

Anyway, this was my first introduction to Undercover. I saw the previous album, Balance of Power, in my local bookstore but chose something else over it. I came into the scene way too late to have ever heard their more punk stuff. Devotion rocks pretty hard and while I didn't love it originally, I've grown quite fond of it lately. Quite a familiar refrain I've been singing in reviews these days. I blame it on trying to reclaim my lost youth. The original is really hard to find but the band has Kickstarted a reissue which I'm sure will be successful (and which I am going to participate in).

Useless Fact: As far as I know Ojo Taylor is no longer a Christian and is a college professor somewhere.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Iced Earth - "Incorruptible"

Iced Earth - Incorruptible
2017, Century Media

1. Great Heathen Army
2. Black Flag
3. Raven Wing
4. The Veil
5. Seven Headed Whore
6. The Relic (Part 1)
7. Ghost Dance (Awaken the Ancestors)
8. Brothers
9. Defiance
10. Clear the Way (December 13th, 1862)

I've got kind of a weird relationship with Iced Earth. If you'll recall I wasn't wild about their last two albums and only bought them because I was on vacation and bored (though I have re-evaluated Dystopia and really like it now). In fact, I wasn't even going to bother with Incorruptible because I'd figure I'd just get it a year later on whilst on vacation. However, I'd been hearing some really good buzz about this one with some fans saying it was their best since Something Wicked. Which is super high praise. So obviously I didn't wait until I was on vacation and I'm glad I didn't. I don't know what got into Jon Schaeffer and the boys, but man... this album rocks. There's definitely an energy and vibrancy that wasn't there on Plagues of Babylon. Everyone is at the top of their game and not one track could be considered "filler." I especially like the finale, "Clear the Way (December 13th, 1862) - a song about an army in the Civil War. I'm actually considering this as one of my picks for 2017 if that's any indication.

Useless Fact: "Seven Headed Whore" is marked as "explicit"... for the word "whore" I guess because there's no actual vulgarity in the song.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

P.I.D. - "The Chosen Ones"

P.I.D. - The Chosen Ones
1991, Frontline

1. The Chosen Ones (Part 1)
2. Grace
3. Hey Oh
4. The Book
5. Abstruction
6. Authority
7. The Hour of Strong Delusions
8. Victim of the System
9. Yours Truly
10. Get You a Bible (D-Boy Re-mix)
11. Get Under the Blood Stream
12. License 2 Kill
13. 15 Degrees in Detroit
14. Joy Like a River
15. Progression
16. K-Mack the Knife (Soul Fingers)
17. The Chosen Ones (Part 2)
18. Roots
19. 3rd Degree Burns
20. The Chosen Ones (Inst.)

I remember when I originally bought this on tape. I wasn't very impressed. Couldn't tell you why, though. I just didn't like it as much as Back to Back. However, I must report that this is another one of those albums where I just scratch my head and think, "What the heck was wrong with me?!" This album is awesome - better than Back to Back in just about every respect. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this the second time around. The sound on this one is just a touch harder (as with a lot of groups at the time) and a little more mature. They really dig into the social issues on this one. Not that they were every really shy about that, but there's a lot more here about black culture and the struggle African-Americans face in society - definitely messages that need to be heard. I will say the album kind of peters out toward the end with a few instrumental/remix-type tracks (again, quite common for the time). I am so glad I picked this up again!

Useless Fact: The group is now three people with K-Mack who was the DJ, I think. Also, one of the members when to convert to Islam if I didn't say that already.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Minier - "Minier (Retroarchives Edition)"

Minier - Minier (Retroarchives Edition)
1990/2017, Retroactive

1. Do Not Be Deceived
2. The Skeptic
3. Price
4. Killing of the Innocent
5. Prophecy
6. Philosophy of Man
7. The Secret Song
Bonus Tracks:
8. Do Not Be Deceived (Bedroom Demo)
9. Foolish State (Bedroom Demo)
10. Mulligan Barf (Bedroom Demo)
11. Philosophy of Man (Bedroom Demo)
12. Prophecy (Bedroom Demo)
13. Sowing Life (Bedroom Demo)
14. Interview w/ Tempered Steel Radio Show, Part 1
15. Interview w/ Tempered Steel Radio Show, Part 2

I've long wanted a copy of Minier for the vault but it seemed like the original REX edition was too pricey. Especially for only seven songs. Retroactive once again stepped up and released this little gem and gave it a proper reissue. It's got six demo tracks from the bedroom of Greg Minier himself. The quality is rough as is befitting a four-track recording but not unlistenable. They've also included a couple of interviews for posterity's sake. Greg even writes some liner notes to give a little insight into the recording. All in all a pretty good package and definitely recommended if you liked the raw and thrashy original.

Useless Fact: Apparently there was supposed to be a full length "Minier" album, but The Crucified and Applehead both got in the way.