A389 feature #2

With the recent rehash of Gehenna and Gehenna-related projects, Hell knows the number of those are growing exponentially, and a few new hard-hitting audio battleaxes, there’s no getting around the “true” underground heavy tunes power of A389 Recordings! Dom of A389 works with me almost personally, as much as possible long distance and I willingly devote myself to indulging in the mixture of sonic blasts that he releases, I’m also humbled to be able to work so closely with this label and hopefully I can spread the sounds and knowledge that this label and these bands are not only worth the time, but they really do represent the actual meaning of “underground” and span across a huge range of heavy styles from hardcore based to doom/sludge/death/thrash/grind/heavy psyche and any/every combo in between.

So anyway, along with the recent news here, reviews of the recent sledgehammer sounds for July, a few older finds, and an interview with some of the diseased minds behind the sounds, you must investigate A389! I’m a starving deviant with specific tastes and I cannot resist this label, it’s true underground like these bands that keep things alive and wicked.


Upcoming releases/news for August:

Full of Hell – Roots of Earth Are Consuming My Home (12”)
Fuck Yeah! This exactly why I love this label! Talk about shredding, this band covers doom, death/grind, and blast beats with massive hardcore violence and bombs through into metal realms like none too many. Fans of East Coast hardcore and metal crossover, likewise aggressive adrenal sludge, and combinations of all things heavy and brutal and down-tuned will foam at the mouth over this one. Listen to “Endless Drone” at the following link where you can stream tracks from the labels releases past, present, and future: a389records.com/boombox.html

Due out in mid-August and pre-orders come with a bonus cassette, so if you missed the awesome bonus Gehenna flexi-disc with July’s preorders, then don’t pass this one up, Full of Hell lives up to their name in every sound they spew forth!

Hatewaves – The Tombs (5”)
Co-released with RSR records comes this brief and brilliant stint into blast beats and skull-caving hardcore, it’s like Crowbar sped up a few dozen RPM‘s. The ultra low-end guitar tones are sludgy without drone and quick deliberate chord strikes create tension and a sense of preparing for war and being all riled up. Everything about Hatewaves is deliberate, it’s genuine, hard-as-nails and bludgeoning with monolithic force.
This is only a 5” and I’m this riled up over a goddamn song, “No Friends”, so you really gotta check out the links to that boom box and scour through this stuff. The actual release is six tracks though, I only got to sample one, but it’s all you really need if something’s good…which this is.

Low Places – Spiritual Treatment (12”)
“Brutal Power Violence influenced hardcore form California”, that description had me hooked, “Power Violence” alone is enough to get my attention and hold it for a few weeks of waiting. Judging from the siren-like feedback intro leading into an instant audio homicidal massacre to the listener, and even takes a doomy tempo, slow and trudging to the absolute limits of splitting the Earth down the middle with heaviness, now that’s seriously tight stuff right there.

Triac – Always Meant to Hurt You (7”)
This Baltimore grindcore act, nothing less than brutal and probably familiar to many as they’ve been around for quite some time, and this 7” is yet another stomper too worthy of letting slip by. It’s just pure “Fire in the Hole” from the first note/tone of the selected track “Hole”. If you’re looking so bands that are as angry and frustrated as you are, then this list should help get you through tough times, it’s therapy for the miscreant.

Kill Life with Mike IX (Eyehategod) – Dead End America (7” Flexi)
I’ve only heard a brief excerpt, but I was sold by Eyehategod alone, so expect nothing less than having your ears raped by heavy noise with this one.

Pale Creation – Twilight Haunt (12”)
First time on vinyl release in the works.

Seven Sisters of Sleep/Children of God split (12”)
Dark and ripping melodic hardcore from California, Southern Lord recently released the SSOS-S/T on disc, but the original 12” is on this label. Next to Xibalba, this band really ripped me open and I cannot recommend them enough to anyone! Pick up that S/T and keep watch for this one dropping soon, it’ll be hard to miss that explosion.
The S/T form SSOS has the amazing doomy sludge/hardcore anthem “Passed out Standing”, which on it’s own is essential.

Recent Release Reviews:

Witch-Lord – Atomized in the Black Solarian (12”)
Right away, there’s no dismissing this one as anything but ugly-ass doom with curdled, fungal riffs and a lingering odor of cannabis laced with hallucinogenic spores entering your brain as you inhale and listen to these muck-drudged sloth bombs. There’s absolutely an older Electric Wizard and Sleep vibe going on here, but even then this stuff is distorted down to tromping sludge, raspy haze, and tempos of a snail crawling through Molasses (but still enough grooves and activity to be far away from drone). It’s impossible to not get a buzz off the distortion and rumble these boys put out on here as the riffs continually cascade against your head like repeated, slow, deliberate blows with a nine iron.

Some tracks, like “Bones are Left” and “Blood for Kali” bust out some fierce grooves and are completely “In Your Face”, all the while the entire listening experience is warm and frothy like shaken-up cheap beer being opened after having been left in the summer sun for the entire afternoon, it’s thick and gushing out all over you and very intoxicating. The mix of sludge’s raw and gritty feel and full on heavy dark psychedelia makes it impossible to avoid being sucked into this trench. This is very heavy psychedelic doom, primitive and infectious like the flu on a public toilet seat, you don’t have to make direct contact to get infected, it just gets itself in you and there’s (thankfully) no cure.

Yes, there are a ton of bands going with this style so why should you listen to this one now?

Because unlike many/most others, Witch Lord has something real and lysergic to it, as opposed to recycling stupid lyrical themes and Iommi riff-offs. These guys don’t give two shits about anyone but themselves and what they do, with music project #’s comparable to the amount of turds piled up in a Tijuana public restroom after Cinco De Mayo celebrations, these 18 years veterans of audio ugliness bear no allegiance to trends or anything related. In fact this album is just something created in the moment, and only 250 are pressed.

Gravehill – Practitioners of Fell Sorcery (12”)
Ahhh, Gravehill! After being humbled and slaughtered live with the current line-up and gladly enjoying their last two artful, brass-knuckle packed punches “Rites of the Pentagram” and the unrivaled sophomore “When All Roads Lead to Hell”, this release was a no-brainer to obtain. That riotous Hellhammer goes thrash up your ass and raining blood and fury of Gravehill today is not only felt and heard in this original line-up that spawned the beast, but there’s really some great doom guitar licks and riffs (“Black Mass”, “Necrosummoner”) that get thrown down, some raw/punkish black metal vocals and rhythms with some serious metal heat to keep it down tuned and blistering (“The Infernal Oath”), and some serious circular whiplash pit anthems like “Mandrake and Liquor”. Hell, whatever your poison/vice is Gravehill have it, and in massive excess, so indulge.

Gehenna – Land of Sodom II (7” plus full cd of Upon the Gravehill)
Gehenna… to have missed Gehenna is like being in London during the Blitz and being unaware of there being a war in progress. What the fuck can one say about a band that combines the viciousness of hardcore and street rat angst with metallic stealth? I guess not much more than “Fuck yeah, I need that!” And you do, if that brief description made you cream your jeans like it did for me. 4 tracks, re-recorded for your debauched and drunken listening pleasure and sought after for some time from the original 7” fuck up. Metal/crust/hardcore heads really need to hear this one; it truly brings about the drunken and angry mayhem of being a shithead and loving every second of it. Goddamn it!!!!! Gehenna are yet another thriving cyst that’ll keep me from ever maturing by society’s standards.

Penetration Panthers – Perpetual 80’s (7”)
Yet another Gehenna side-project, but also more than just that! These guys pay homage to a love of 80’s street/skate counter culture and what it was like to be a dweeb and waving the finger at everyone, I was one myself and it was fun! Classic 80’s underground punk, done right, nothing rehash and cute here, it’s all blasting and wicked so if you can handle the real stuff that bears a lot of homage to the Stooges and the raw, early Detroit sounds you’ll absolutely need this one. They also are planning on keeping this project going with a full length soon on A389 so crack this one open, tune out and drop on your ass! If “Wasted Mind” doesn’t make you want to get blasted and raise hell, or “Lipstick on Leather” doesn’t induce a hard-on for you guys out there, then you really aren’t cut form the right mold.

Spanning less than 10 minutes, but such a must, this 7” is essential for the punk asshole in many of us (we all really want to raise hell anyway). Reminds me of the first thrill of hearing the Dead Kennedys’ “Too Drunk to Fuck”, the Stooges’ “I Wanna be your Dog” or even “T.V. Eye”, or most of those eras actually! The opener “Perpetual 80’s” makes me think of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” with its “I Wanna Be Your Slave”. Classic and real shit here! You can’t go wrong for once if you go with this crew.

Caulfield – S/T (12”)
I cannot resist epic and emotionally intense crust/hardcore with metallic leanings and Caulfield delivers in full for those looking for a serious blast that’ll rip your heart out from your chest cavity. There’s as much desperation and bleakness among the chaos here as there is pure anger and revolt. If the newer wave of hardcore based/influenced acts seems a tad watered down or over sweetened, then Caulfield is the response to your calling. I’m a huge Kylesa and Isis fan. I love the intense darkness with melody and a very heavy and hardcore approach to songs, so if you want something to slaughter the usual stale post rock nonsense and keep it aggressive and fucked up but also human, then please check out Caulfield! I absolutely cannot pull myself away from this one. It’s brutal, melodic, passionate and inebriating…that’s Caulfield.

Pala – We don’t Exist (12”)
Somewhere between what once was promising post rock and underground with punk/hardcore leanings, comes the amazing PALA. Expect everything and anything from post rock/indie melodic and emotional leanings to full on throat grating hardcore/punk and wailing guitar leads, so to even attempt to pigeonhole PALA would be simply wrong.

“Don’t Ever Think You’re In Control” shows the melodic alternative meets hardcore side, as the track is extremely up tempo and aggressive. The wailing siren guitar and swarms of distorted riffs that go between hardcore and an almost proggy noodling without ever going off the stomping edge into something distracting, and God forbid by some peoples standards “arty”, keep this one where it needs to be. “These Weights” is a throaty and emotional sonic fest that goes between desperate, almost like a raw and ugly Sunny Day Real Estate at times (although still more balls and brute than indie/emo although I do love that band’s really old stuff), but then it goes fully into hardcore shouts and tramples once again.

“Inside Of” is another moody track that showcases the way this band can fuse melody and atmosphere just as dense as say Pelican and Isis, but here it’s a constant rollercoaster of melodic hardcore with little to know drifting and droning. It’s so hard to mention how awesome something is without using beautiful and emotional even when it’s still heavy and fisty, so if you’re that much of an ass to where anything that isn’t pure ugly brutality makes you feel insecure, than you’re beyond the limits of help and miracles. The 7+ minute “Inside Of” brings us to the 8+ minute “Sure to Burn” which again wavers between depressing/desperate emotions and hostility and all the while gradually building up to the hostility breakthrough as the volume, tempo, sonic activity steadily increase to this plateau. You keep expecting it to fully explode at some point, but it only does a little bit toward the last two-minutes to end in a sonic plume so you feel tense and excited all through the ride.

Available on very appropriate and nerdy pink vinyl, this band features Chris Kuhns of Pulling Teeth/Hatewaves and is accurately described by the label as “…Heavy music for nerds, by nerds.”

Withdrawal – Faith, Flesh and Blood (7”)
This has to be another one that comes straight out of the gate and soars out in front of all the others in the pack. Just listening to the opener “Shapeshifter”, you just get that deliberate rhythm and force behind every stomp, chord, and vocal assault that is an unmistakable sign of a good record. The rhythms really hook you in instantly and the way they keep it throbbing with groove and whiplash inducing headbanging anthems, it’s easy to say that bands like Withdrawal are a bigger threat to hooking you than any substance known to man, so tread lightly as this one comes with serious repercussions and addictions. There’s something that’s still unique and true to their sound that while even being familiar on the surface, underneath there is a mysterious beast of it’s own doing.