Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mortification - "Break the Curse 1990 (2010 20th Anniversary Gold Edition)"

Mortification - Break the Curse 1990 (2010 20th Anniversary Gold Edition)
2010, Roxx Productions

1. Blood Sacrifice
2. Brutal Warfare
3. Impulsation
4. Turn
5. New Beginnings
6. Break the Curse
7. Illusion of Life
8. Your Last Breath
9. Journey of Reconciliation
10. The Majestic Infiltration of Order
Bonus Tracks
11. Time Crusaders (Studio Version)
12. Eyes of Destruction (1987 Lightforce Recording)
13. Envision a Beginning/Buried Into Obscurity
14. Steve Talks/Noah Was a Knower
15. Interview With Steve

I've never heard Steve Rowe's original band, Lightforce. I saw Mystical Thieves in a Christian bookstore a long time ago but I never bought it. Therefore, I can't really talk about the differences between Lightforce and Mortification. I have always wanted to hear Break the Curse though. It's the album that they put out before the official debut on Intense Records. The band's not quite as tight as they would become on the debut. They're more thrashy and Steve's vocals haven't quite found the sweet spot yet. They're growly, but he hasn't added the baritone/guttural aspect so they end up a little shrill. It doesn't bother me though. It's also fun to hear some old favorites like "Brutal Warfare" and "Journey of Reconciliation" as straight forward metal tunes. I'm also surprised that cool cuts like "Illusion of Life" and "Your Last Breath" never made it onto the debut. I would to have loved to hear beefed up death versions of them. This disc also comes with a studio version of "Time Crusaders" (it's not as good as the live version), an old Lightforce recording, and the Noah Sat Down and Listened to the Mortification Live E.P. While Having A Coffee. In addition to an interview. And if that wasn't enough the package includes a DVD of Mortification's first concert ever. While I can't say I like Break the Curse more than the debut it's a great listen and I'm glad to have it in my collection.

Useless Fact: Steve Rowe once penned a novel called Minstrel. I can't remember what album it was advertised with but I've always wondered if it was any good. If anyone has read it and has more information on it, leave a comment!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Swirling Eddies - "Let's Spin!"

The Swirling Eddies - Let's Spin!
1988, Alarma

1. Let's Spin!
2. Catch That Angel
3. The Unsuccessful Dutch Missionary
4. The Big Guns
5. Rodeo Drive
6. Ed Takes a Vacation (A Suite)
7. Snowball
8. I've Got an Idea
9. Don't Ask Me How I Feel
10. Ed Again
11. What a World, What a World

The prices on Let's Spin have come down a bit in the past few months allowing me to actually get one for Christmas. I honestly had no idea what I was going to hear when I put this on as the Eddies have changed with each successive album. So what did I discover? Well, it actually has more in common with The Midget, The Speck and The Molecule than any other album (or, rather, the other way around). It's a lot more commercial and a lot more straight forward than I expected. It's not nearly as silly as Outdoor Elvis or nearly as dour as Zoom Daddy. I also have to admit that this is the first Eddies disc that I didn't love immediately upon hearing. I'm not sure why. The songs took me some getting used to for some reason. Though I do love "I've Got an Idea" and it's my absolute favorite song on this disc and one of my favorite Eddies songs overall. I also like the ethereal "Snowball" and "The Big Guns." I find myself wanting to listen to the album more even though it hasn't done for me as much as I thought it would. I have a feeling it will take a while for this to grow on me and when it does it will be one of my favorite albums of all time.

Useless Fact: The band made a video for "I've Got an Idea." It's pretty interesting... or disturbing depending on how you look at it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bloodgood - "Bloodgood"

Bloodgood - Bloodgood
1986/2010, Intense Millennium

1. Accept the Lamb
2. Stand in the Light
3. Demon on the Run
4. Anguish and Pain
5. Awake
6. Soldier of Peace
7. You Lose
8. What's Following the Grave
9. Killing the Beast
10. Black Snake
Bonus Track
11. Awake (alternate mix)
12. Black Snake (extended version)

How the heck did I ever miss this the first time? HOW?! Oh wait... I remember, I was seven. Thankfully great music doesn't die so I am able to hear Bloodgood's debut album with virgin ears. Every time I listen to a Bloodgood disc I just sit back and marvel at just how good it is. How much passion there is in these songs. You'll notice I use the word "passion" when describing Bloodgood a lot. It's here in spades. You should have this in your collection - not just because it's a piece of Christian metal history, but because you'll have a blast listening to it. Great songs, great hooks... great album!

The cover art on this release is actually pretty decent. Of course, I still have the old one displayed because I'm a crotchety old man and that's how I roll.

I would also like to say that this is my 400th post! Thank you to all who have visited!

Useless Fact: According to the liner notes vocalist Les Carlson actually auditioned for Bloodgood some time before actually joining the band and nothing came of it until he met up with the rest of the band a little later.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Vengeance Rising - "Human Sacrifice"

Vengeance Rising - Human Sacrifice
1989/2010, Intense Millennium

1. Human Sacrifice
2. Burn
3. Mulligan Stew
4. Receive Him
5. I Love Hating Evil
6. Fatal Delay
7. White Throne
8. Salvation
9. From the Dead
10. Ascension
11. He Is God
12. Fill This Place With Blood
13. Beheaded
Bonus Tracks
14. Prodigal Son (Live)
15. Human Sacrifice (Live)
16. Salvation (Live)

Human Sacrifice is a thrash classic - no two ways about it. What else needs to be said? Go buy one!

One quick comment: Intense Millennium has again changed the cover art. While it doesn't hold a candle to the original iconic cover, it's at least in the ballpark of being good. Thankfully the reproduction of the original is nice and crisp you can display that one if you want.

Now for a completely random story...

At one point before the demise of the band I sent Roger Martinez a letter. I had to be about thirteen at the time. I was just trying to encourage him and tell him that I was there for him if he ever wanted to talk. I even gave him my phone number. Flash forward to 2004. I'm driving home from my construction job and I get a call on my cell phone. It's Roger Martinez. He told me that I wrote a letter a long time ago and he was calling to see if I was interested in reading the first chapter in a book he wrote. He said he felt like he wasn't really helping people like he thought he was and he wanted to do something to help. He emailed me the first chapter of his book (about real estate) and it was like data overload. I never did talk to him again (even though he called a few times after that). That was one weird day I tell ya! From what I heard later, he was trying to get in touch with a lot of people that may have sent him letters back in the day.

Useless Fact: The hand on the original cover was none other than Sanctuary Mastermind Pastor Bob Beeman!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Vengeance Rising - "Once Dead"

Vengeance Rising - Once Dead
1990/2010, Intense Millennium

1. Warfare
2. Can't Get Out
3. Cut Into Pieces
4. Frontal Lobotomy
5. Herod's Violent Death
6. The Whipping Post
7. Arise
8. Space Truckin'
9. Out of the Will
10. The Wrath to Come
11. Into the Abyss
12. Among the Dead
13. Interruption
Bonus Tracks
14. Interview: Introduction
15. Interview: What happened
16. Interview: It's Gonna Be a Good Show
17. Interview: Closing

Once Dead was definitely a grower. It took me awhile to get past Roger's growly vocal style which I'd never heard on any record until then. It wasn't look until the hooks got me, the sheer heaviness of the riffs, the bluesy leads. It all just clicks. This will be the third time I've owned a copy of this album. Am I complaining? Heck no. This version's remaster removes some of the ear-splitting qualities of the original release without sacrificing the heavy. As a result the album as a whole is even more enjoyable than it was previously. It's too bad things went down they way they did because a third Vengeance album with the original line-up would have been absolutely killer.

Okay... let's talk cover art again. Intense Millennium has been changing the cover art to all of their reissues. Sometimes it's okay, sometimes, like on this disc, it's terrible. The original cover was fun and cheesy and there was really no need to change it. But if you're going to change it - make it better. This cover is terrible - by far my least favorite of the new covers. Why so much empty black space? Why the giant hands? Not only does it not fit the theme of the album, it looks like a cheap Photoshop job. I've heard there was some original artwork that was supposed to be used but wasn't. Why not use that instead? Ugh! I will say the liner notes are good (and legible) though and the artwork inside is cool.

Useless Fact: Not a fact really... Back in the day when my youth group went to Kingdom Bound in upstate NY, Roger Martinez was always there selling Vengeance merch. I must have had six or seven VR shirts. I loved those dang things. I had a girlfriend once who took my "Into the Abyss" shirt and wore it at school practically non-stop - to the point where her friends were telling her she had to wash it. To be fair, those old VR shirts had some cool artwork!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bloodgood - "Detonation"

Bloodgood - Detonation
1987/2010, Intense Millennium

1. Battle of the Flesh
2. Vagrant People
3. Self-Destruction
4. Alone in Suicide
5. Heartbeat (of the City)
6. Eat the Flesh
7. Holy Fire
8. Crucify
9. The Messiah
10. Live Wire
Bonus Tracks
11. Crucify (live)
12. The Messiah (live)

In my original review of this album I lamented the fact that I was distressingly late to the Bloodgood party. I downloaded it just to check them out - turns out they're awesome. Turns out Detonation is a metal classic and I was a moron.... A MORON for not having this in my collection. Now I am proud to say I have a shiny new Detonation in my collection, special thanks to Intense Millennium. The remastering is superb and does help the album sound a bit better even though I don't think it was recorded properly in the first place. Every song it just a pleasure to hear. If you're a fan of Christian metal go to Divine Metal Distro and buy a copy. Don't download it - you don't need to. You will be pleased. Just trust me.

I am thankfully that this disc's artwork is much better and befitting what one would expect for a reissue of this magnitude. The liner notes are clear and easy to read and there's new artwork as well. I'm not a big fan of it but the original artwork is sharply recreated so you can use that if you want to (I know I do). If this is indicative of the quality of future Intense Millennium albums then the future looks bright indeed.

Quick tip - if you import the CD using Itunes it will mark "Self-Destruction" as "Alone in Suicide" giving you two "Alone in Suicides." It's the correct song, just the incorrect name. Be sure to change it before importing.

Useless Fact: According to the liner notes vocalist Les Carlson was in a production of the musical Hair. Isn't that the one where everyone gets naked at the end? Eww. I'm sure Mr. Carlson was not in that scene.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mortification - "Brain Cleaner"

Mortification - Brain Cleaner
2004, Rowe Productions

1. Boaconstrictor
2. Too Much Pain
3. Purest Intent
4. Free As a Bird
5. Brain Cleaner
6. I'm Not Your Commodity
7. The Flu Virus
8. Livin' Like a Zombie
9. 12 Men
10. Louder Than the Devil
11. E.D.

"Brain cleaner! Yeah, brain cleaner!" I heard the title song's chorus on Itunes and I smiled. It's silly, but still kind of cool. Though I confess after having heard this album in its entirity sometimes I don't know whether Steve Rowe wants me to take Mortification seriously or not. On the one hand you have the return of blast beats, furious riffs, and the deep growls of the old albums. On the other hand you have some more of the simplistic song structure and downright silly lyrics of the newer discs. Steve's got a couple songs like "Purest Intent" and "I'm Not Your Commodity" in which he defends his art but it's hard to take him seriously when he writes lyrics which are, and I am not making these up, "I like the grind and I like death metal/I like the thrash crossover that's simple/I like the power metal extremes/I like the doom and shouting out Jesus!" Good heavens... lyrics like these are just lazy in my opinion. If you want to make art... then MAKE ART, don't just yell at me about how you don't care what I think! Then there's "The Flu Virus" - I have no idea what this song is about. Is the flu shot like salvation? Is he saying everyone gets the flu? I don't know. On the plus side, I do like "Livin' Like a Zombie" and its autobiographical lyrics about how busy he is and I think that the title song, "Brain Cleaner" strikes the perfect balance between decent message, toungue-in-cheek humor, and metal. I wish the whole album was like that song. So yeah... despite the return to their thrashier roots, I'm still not a later-era Morty believer just yet. This is way better than Hammer of God though.

I would also like to point out that in the liner notes "Boaconstricter" and "I'm Not Your Commodity" are misspelled.

Useless Fact: The cover art is, I suspect, a parody of Harry Potter. The little boy on the cover is Steve's son, I think.