"Holy flippity" I thought when I opened the envelope and out fellCathedral - In Memoriam. "Earache have actually sent me something to review." Fortunately I was mistaken. Itís a Music For Nations release of old and long lost Cathedral material. And so my record of never having had anything by Earache to review, in spite of having sent numerous issues to them, continues. And yep, that allows me to sound bitter. Just want to set the record straight as to why there might sometimes appear to be glaring omissions in the material reviewed here sometimes.
Anyway, In Memorium is a collectors item. Of course it sounds nothing like their current output. And I really canít see it winning that many new fans. A collection of "lost" recordings, the first 4 are demos, the following 5 were recorded live in Holland in Ď91. In total the 9 tracks run in at over 72 minutes long, and personally I found it hard work to sit through this the five times I like to listen to something before I write the final review. Part of the reason it has to be said is down to Dorrianís vocals. Total growl of the trying to be scary variety. It kind of fits with the music in trying to create a very dark sinister feel, but also comes across as a bit stupid. Which is not helped by them being mixed too high in the overall sound. The "new" tracks are Mourning of a New Day, All Your Sins, Ebony Tears and March, and all of them except March are repeated in the live set. The music is slow and ponderous, and a bit too long, with most of the tracks weighing in around the 7 minute mark or longer. Yes, it has the Sabbath doom going for it, but for the most part it doesnít have the riffs. And sometimes you just have to lift the pace, otherwise it all gets too monotonous and well boring.The live stuff though is truly live, as on tracks such as Neophytes For The Serpent Eve the mix goes all over the place, the drums kick in then fade out as it all gets blown away. Pretty much like the sound is for anyone other than the headline band at any outdoor festival youíll ever go to. So itís kind of nice in a charming way. Not sure how much this is going to be retailing for, but I hope itís not a full blown CD price. Thereís enough music here, but this is for the completist, and that fact shouldnít be reflected in an inflated price.
Available on Rise Above through Music For Nations.
Funtime punkrock and hardcore compilation - Elements
This really should've been in the last issue, but I simply ran out of space. Anyway, it's a double CD sampler kind of thing from Belgian hardcore label Funtime, illustrating waaaaaaay to many bands for me to list in one go. I guess it's probably reasonably cheap, given of course that it's a double CD. But what of it? Let's take a gander.
CD 1 first which has 25 tracks weighing in at 71 minutes. It opens with a NOFX styled excursion from Not That Straight complete with those heavier chugs, the out of control pacing, and the ching ching tempo changes. It's all there. Not bad, lot of bands to comete with though. Enemy of the Sun offer an altogether heavier proposition with their track Escapist. Nice little time change in there, but the vocals are a bit boring and stodgy though. Next we move towards the poppier punk territory again with Friskoís For Free Unfortunately the name NOFX is the first one that springs to mind again. I know there are other bands of a similar ilk which it's been pointed out to me before that some bands sound more alike. But NOFX are the ones I know, and who set the benchmark. And like it or not, to the person who isn't fully ingrained in all the intricacies and subtleties of a particular genre, there's always going to be "just one band" that everyone else sounds like. We then move to heavier ground again for Between The Lines Is there a pattern emerging here? They do the heavy build up. Itstops for the bass to do it's thing, then the tempo gets lifted, the guitars chug and in comes the roar of the vocals. It's not bad, but it's by numbers. Yep, the pattern is here. Skin of Tears offer a more pop-punk sort of stylee with Up the cup. Good in a way to see someone mixing these two styles that do appear to draw different audiences together into one whole. Because at the end of the day, it's all paraded under the hardcore banner, and in that case the hardcore warrier should be exposed to the different flavours. Family of Dog offer the most appealing so far. Hints of the Slayer sound in there. The pattern continues. Billy Liar are more melodic. Uninspiring. Exit Nineteen go for the moody atmospheric build up, before bowing to the swamp monster vocals. Nice riff in there though. Janes Detd offers the first really melodic singing, kind of Snuff like to me. Something about being fed tofu. RVC offers the most extreme vocal yet, but at least it gets offset by doing a spoken word thing as well. And so it continues. It gets pretty difficult to listen to this in one go. On CD2 the pattern repeats. Standout is the slighlty more delicate nature of Circle with their track Drift Away, though they do spoil it by resorting to form, getting heavy - thatís ok, and having the high shriek yayy thing - theyíve demonstrated their a good band without it. Other decent stuff is Victims of Socity, the slightly bizarre Nevergreen with Porno mag, Stroke of Grace, Charlie Donít Surf, Flatcat, Astream and the full on metal, for thatís what it is, of Up To Now and Excess of Cruelty.
Overall? Dunno, it's tricky. If you're well into this sort of thing, then I'd have thought it was well worth your time and money investigating, because you surely haven't heard all the bands here. But there again, if you're well into this sort of thing, you'll probably either turn around and tell me that blah and blah is a huge pile of dog turds, while sloba'n'de is the sound of a new generation and how could I possibly have compared them with wassock or said it was uninspiring and by numbers. There again, if you're not into it, then this is probably going to paint a fairly one-dimensional picture of the whole scene. Or sorry, two one dimensional pictures. One of NOFX ska fixated pop punk, the other of death metal with haircuts. But itís good to see two scenes that sometimes appear to want their independance from each other actually back to back like this. There again, personally I see so many metal references and riffs in amongst it all that it just further re-enforces in my mind that the notions of scenes are pretty pointless and at the end of the day itís the music that counts. But you have to respect what this is about, itís just that 49 bands in 146 minutes, as great value as it is, is just a bit too much when most of the bands donít really have anything that stands out from the everything else thatís going round with this sort of thing at the moment.
Contact Funtime c/o J Quinten, Dutselhoek 12, 3220 Holsbeek, Belgium (I think!)