Album Of The Week – August 9, 2021

I’m going back to the glory days of the early ’90’s for this beast of a pick.

Carcass – Heartwork

Released – October 18, 1993 via Earache/Columbia Records

Favorite Tracks – Carnal Forge, Buried Dreams, Heartwork

Heartwork was released in late 1993 and served as yet another transition for the British metal act. Their prior effort Necrotism… had shifted them somewhat away from grindcore and into death metal, and Heartwork again moved them into the melodic death metal landscape, which was taking shape across the continent in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The album was perfect at the time for me. I was well into my exploration of extreme metal in ’93 and was absolutely floored when I heard this. What has come to be called the “Gothenburg Sound” is one of my favorite subgenres of all time and this was my introduction to it, pre-dating my discovery of At The Gates, Dark Traniqillity, et al. It moved with precision, sounded great and more sharp than some of the rougher death metal of the day.

The album was part of a major record label’s short but ill-fated foray into extreme metal. The band’s label Earache Records partnered with major Columbia to release this and a few other albums from notable acts like Entombed and Napalm Death. Though the move fell flat on its face, it gave more American youths a chance at hearing the stuff through a widened distribution network in the days just before the Internet became a thing.

In the end, Heartwork remains as a beloved staple in any heavy metal collection and probably Carcass’ magnum opus. It’s remained in my rotation from the day of its release and it’s one I’m spinning ’till I depart this mortal coil.

Oh yeah, check out this “red” and white marble vinyl from a recent reissue. Record colors don’t always come out the way they’re supposed to. This one is pretty amusing.

Playlist discussion – Best of Rock 1990

Ok so this won’t be what anyone would consider “top tier” content. This is scraping the bottom for stuff to post. I didn’t have a Friday post ready for this first week so I went back to this idea I had worked on a bit a few months ago as I was preparing to re-enter the blogosphere.

I sat through the “Best of Rock 1990” playlist on Spotify and checked it out. I wrote what I thought about each song down. I quit doing it a thrid of the way through because there are 60 damn songs on this list and no one cares what anyone thinks about every one of them.

So in desperate need of content to float me through my first few weeks of a new blog, I decided to revisit this and pare it down to where I just discuss a handful of the songs. I left off a few things that I’m going to do more in-depth posts about later and I also left off some that all I have to say is “why did you write that?” It’s also out of order because I think Spotify shuffles stuff around on these sometimes and because this whole thing is kinda boring.

Anyway, let’s get into it.

AC/DC – “Thunderstruck”

Good way to open. I know people are down on AC/DC but I always dug ’em, and Razor’s Edge specifically was a badass record. This always was one of their better songs.

Scorpions – “Wind of Change”

I played the shit out of Crazy World back in the day. Yeah, I know the CIA maybe secretly wrote this song. I gotta check that podcast out someday.

Jon Bon Jovi – “Blaze of Glory”

I actually do dig this song. Sure it’s whatever, but I always jammed out to it when I was young and dumb. Now that I’m older and dumb I’d still play it but I never really do.

The Black Crowes – “Hard To Handle”

The Crowes are all over this playlist and with good reason. The whole album is a monster. One of the best things to come from the year.

INXS – “Suicide Blonde”

The death of Michael Hutschene was to sex what the death of Dale Earnhart Sr. was to auto racing. Advances in auto-erotic asphyxiation devices have kept generations safe in lonely hotel rooms since. I know I feel safer.

Oh yeah, the song totally slays. INXS were badass.

Alice In Chains – “Man In The Box”

I’m all about AIC, I took to them right off the bat when this vid hit MTV back when MTV was MTV. Sure, local cover bands beat this song to death in every dive bar across our great land. But that doesn’t deter my enjoyment of it.

Bad Religion – “21st Century (Digital Boy)”

Here we are with the first thing I’m not familiar with on here. I never did give this band a proper listen and I don’t remember if I’ve ever heard this song. I should definitely throw the band onto the “check out” pile. This song is fine, I don’t know where the band’s fans rank this recording or anything like that.

Jane’s Addiction – “Stop”

Jane’s were a good time back in the day. This song does a bit more for me than the ever-present “Been Caught Stealing” but it’s all good.

Queensryche – “Silent Lucidity”

So yeah, it’s that song that scored big for them and also marked a pretty big shift in their sound. That’s a bit misleading though since they reshaped their sound on every prior record anyway. I’m cool with it and it was my intro to the band. I went to buy this tape but it was sold out and so I settled for their prior album. That changed my fucking life.

Poison – “Unskinny Bop”

Nothing like a Poison track to usher in a new decade. This surely flew the flag for hair metal and ensured it would carry on through the next ten years.

I was into Poison when I was young. Like, I asked for their second album for Christmas and I got the tape. My mom went through and tore out a huge part of the insert that had bunch of pictures of them partying, often with scantily-clad women. Gotta love those good Christian households, always looking out for your welfare.

I don’t really mess with Poison these days but hearing the stuff now and again doesn’t really bother me.

Blues Traveller – “But Anyway”

Oh yeah, this is the song from Kingpin. Love that movie. But anyway, I’m not a huge BT fan though this is a pretty cool song.

Cocteau Twins – “Heaven Or Las Vegas”

Ok so I do like shoegaze but I literally just started listening to it last month so I don’t know jack about it. MBV and Slowdive are like all I really know about, which if the memes are to be believed, means I know all I need to know.

I know that CT predate shoegaze but they were clearly very influential to the movement. That doesn’t mean I really want to listen to much more of this, though.

Depeche Mode – “Enjoy The Silence”

I do really like Depeche Mode. That said, Violator is the only album I’ve ever owned of theirs. But yeah they were/are really good and this happens to be my favorite song of theirs.

I didn’t realize this came out in 1990, I thought it was earlier. Oh well, time is made up anyway.

Midnight Oil – “Blue Sky Mine”

So I only know that song about the burning beds from them that I mistakenly thought Talking Heads did. This song is fine but I don’t really have to have it in my life. 1990 was weird, man.

I think that about covers it. 1990 was the year before I absolutely dove headfirst into music so this was kind of a “before the storm” time for me anyway. What would happen in 1991 would blow apart the music landscape and then by the end of the decade I don’t know what the hell anyone was doing. We’ll call this good and try to post stuff that isn’t as lame. (Next week is a good week for that, by the way)

Feels Like The First Time

I suppose it might be wise to offer a bit on how I got into music in the first place. I’ll do these in pieces over time since there’s a lot of ground to cover.

I am getting a bit long in the tooth these days but I think I’ve pinpointed the first memory I have of actually sitting for awhile and listening to music. It would have been in the early ’80’s – I am guessing here but I think it was ’83. I would have turned 6 that year but was probably still 5 at the time.

I was over at my grandparents’ house staying the evening and my uncle’s room there was uninhabited for the night. I sat with his stereo and his – wait for it – 8 track collection.

I don’t remember exactly what all I jammed out to that evening but I very much recall hearing Jimi Hendrix. That would stick with me to this very day and Hendrix is one of my favorite artists of all time.

I wouldn’t get into having my own music until several years later. In the intervening time I would absorb it through the usual mediums of the time – from relatives’ collections on huge old stereo systems that are now retro and worth money, on the radio, and on the up-and-coming music video channel on cable TV. (What was its name?)

I’d hear and like a lot of the big names of the day – The Police, John Mellencamp, Springsteen, and all the various one-hit wonders of the time. But the one that really got me was Van Halen. I’m far from the only one – Van Halen truly rocked the world. They were the ones who, more than anyone, launched me onto the path I’ve been on all these years.

I was 9 when my mom finally relented with my unending demands for my own music and she bought me a record, straight off the shelf of our local Wal-Mart in Cowtown USA. It was one of the most popular records of the year and probably not something a lot of people would do much but sneer at today, but dammit it was mine. It was Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet.

I’ll be upfront about it – I still dig it to this day. Excellent songwriting and fun stuff to jam out to. I won’t say I’m a huge fan of their whole catalog but this album gets it done for me.

After that my family took the hint and started buying me music as gifts. I’d get the standard fare for the time – hair metal, Michael Jackson, that sort of thing. It’d be a few years until I got into anything off the beaten path, but that’s a whole other story.

The process of discovery was the great thing about the early days. It was easy to do back then, music was massive business and was all over the place. It was also nice to be too young to be into the gatekeeping, elitism and smugness that would come in later years. It was simply a matter of enjoying something that was cool and moving on from stuff that wasn’t.

Alas, the joy and innocence of childhood discovery is long since lost to the ages. But it’s always cool to think back on how a lifetime of musical enjoyment and appreciation began. And somehow there are a series of straight lines to draw from here to extreme metal, and to country, and somehow later curving back to Britrock and shoegaze. But we’ll get there.

Album of the Week – August 2, 2021

I figured every Monday I’d do an Album of the Week. There is no real critera behind it, I just pick an album I’m fond of for whatever reason and talk about it. It could be something with a real story behind it or it could just be something I really like and I just say “jam out to this.”

I’m gonna kick off the series with an absoulte banger and one of my favorite albums of all time.

High On Fire are an institution today and much of that came about with the 2007 release of Death Is This Communion. This band had already set a high bar with their prior efforts and they cleared that bar by leaps and bounds on …Communion.

Released September 18, 2007 via Relapse Records

Favorite Tracks: Death Is This Communion, Turk, Fury Whip

The tunes have always been heavy with High On Fire but the band have also thrown in some melodic embellishments to keep things lively. It’s not stuff that will simply whip your ass, but it will still certianly whip your ass. And it’ll soften the blow with some sweet interludes along the way.

There isn’t any real background story to why I got into this album. The only thing I really needed to know was that there was a new High On Fire album. When we all heard it after release we were pretty well shitting ourselves over it. I recall pretty unanimous praise from my circles for the record, everyone was flipping over how awesome it was.

It’s an album without a single weak note for me. But the title track is the first one that really got its claws in me. Just this long, droning, pounding rhythym and the lyrics speaking of some arisen Eldritch horror consuming all. That’s the kind of stuff I sign up for anywhere, anytime.

This album put High On Fire on a whole new playing field. While they were already known for having a sound their own that didn’t fall too neatly into one of metal’s slog of subgenres, they transcended their own past on …Communion and let the world know they were one of the world’s premeir acts.

In the nearly 14 years since the release, High On Fire have continued to forge a path of their own making in an ever-crowded metal marketplace. This album will probably always be tops for me but they’ve touched the Sun a time or two since on subsequent releases. Our shirtless overlord Matt Pike and his band of hard-pounding doomsters trudge on, pounding us into gleefull submission with the most piss-soaked, metal-hardened riffs to be found.