Audio Evaluation – Demo Daze

During a recent visit to old favorite Sorry State Records. I found myself gobbling up cassette demos to re-enforce my vinyl order. Upon receiving and listening to these outdated modems of music sharing. I found myself being introduced to some pretty awesome bands I had never before heard of. As I listened, I found myself jotting down thoughts and impressions on what I was hearing. The experience immediately brought  me back to my fanzine days when I collected and traded tapes with people around the world. As cassettes and  in particular, demo cassettes continue to make a comeback. I’ve decided to dedicate some time to sharing my thoughts while possibly connecting people to some new, under the radar bands you may or may not have heard of. So here we go. JD

To sample or purchase any of the following. Just click here.

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Enamel – 2016 Demo Philly’s female fronted Enamel deliver eight songs of powerful, well structured songs that show off the bands sense for musicianship, as well as an  ability to perfectly execute the nihilism and stripped down approach of Hardcore. Great production and packaging to boot. With each song failing to make the two-minute mark. I was impressed with how these songs made such a lasting impression.

S-21 – Demo Wow, talk about a departure. S-21 manage to make a lot of dirty noise with this four song thrasher. Gnarly blasts of filth and fury that scared the bejesus out of me. While Philadelphia’s S-21 also feature a female vocalist. All comparisons, resemblance and likeness end there. This is about as raw and forceful as they come. Coming in at 1:17.  the demo’s fourth and final track, ‘Prisoner’ is by far my personal favorite.

Heavy Hands – 2016 Demo While I’m not quite sure why this Portland band reminds me of thrashier NYHC bands of the mid 80’s. I find myself stuck in that comparison. While I find the sped up sounding high pitch vocal screams to be a bit irritating. I find myself drawn to the Heavy Hands revved guitar assault and rapid fire percussion. In listening to these six songs. I found myself gaining a sense of respect and appreciation for Heavy Hands. However, I see a lot of room and hopefully time for improvement.

SWEATS – Demo ’16 “Hey Portland, what’s going on? Have you heard of this cool new band called SWEATS?” The bands heavy-handed and straightforward barked vocals immediately have me thinking of John Brannon’s Negative Approach and Choke’s short-lived, pre-Slapshot endeavour Negative FX. (Two classic early 80’s HXC bands I admittedly took years to appreciate.) Whether or not the members of SWEATs’ have any inkling of those aforementioned bands existence. It clearly shows itself on this demo.

Pure Pressure – Demo 2016 Fast, furious and loud as fuck. On this seven song leave little to the imagination. And while some might find similarities in early NYHC and thrash. I found this Toronto band to be a bit hard to digest. If you’re in to speedy, rough around the edges thrash or speed core. I’d recommend a listen. As for me. I found nothing redeeming about this one.

The Brood – October Dreams  2016 Demo Forgive my age for a second or two while I feel myself transcended to ‘Power of Expression‘ era BLAST. On their latest offering Philly’s  The Brood have recorded an eight song banger that remind me more of a classic BLASTNecrosChrist on Parade album than any stop gate cassette release. Bold, frenetic and essential. I would love nothing more than to hear more from The Brood and ultimately, see this pressed on a heavy slab of vinyl. Essential and absolutely necessary.

Rabid Minds – Demo 2016 When you open your set with a bass line as good as that on ‘Intro‘. You’re surely going to get people interested in what you have to offer.Featuring members of Permanent Ruin, Busted Outlook and Death First. The bi-coastal Rabid Minds let both their influences and experience loose on this five song banger. Powerful and impressive bass lines meet jagged guitar riffage and growled, yet easily digestible vocals to make what comes together as a rather impressive release. Get a hold on this and let it grab a hold of you.

Trash Knife – Trash Life While I haven’t been to an event in Philly since attending a house show at The Terror Dome many years ago. There seems to be a lot of good and diverse things happening in the city of brotherly love these days. Trash Knife may very well be the band that inspire another drive south on the Garden State. And while Trash Knife might comfortably find themselves on the bill as the likes of Enamel and S-21. Trash Knife might be better compared to acts such as Bikini Kill than any local Hardcore acts. Each of the five songs on ‘Trash Life‘ merit countless listens as well as praise. Stick that one in your hamstring buddy.

 

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Slobber – You Son of a Bitch

a3137737670_16With a sound that can be likened to an autopsy at a bachelors party, or perhaps a riot at the Vatican. California’s Slobber goes for the jugular vein and proceeds to eat it before it goes straight for your heart. Five songs that scared the hell out of me in the way good Hardcore music is supposed to. If old schoolers Citizens Arrest met noise makers Rorschach at an Infest show. They would probably scheme to create something that sounds like Slobber. This is one hell of a ripper that didn’t just leave an impression. It left scars. With songs barely making the minute mark. There’s little room for bells and whistles. Lucky for us, this California band doesn’t need them. Quite good for all you bad ass motherfuckers. JD

Available Here

 

Sticker Shock; Crippled Youth / BOLD

By now I should be used to my neighbor and good friend stopping by with a little gift or surprise every now and again. What initially started as an invite to lunch for a few freelancers in the building a little over a year ago, quickly burgeoned into a friendship that has continued to flourish as my first year here has come and gone. So when he knocked on my door moments after we returned from a weekend trip. I can’t say I was a bit surprised. When he brought his hand out of his back pocket to reveal a Crippled Youth sticker. 3-0001It’s easy to say, I was grasping for the words to express why I was taken back almost thirty years ago when I first purchased my Crippled Youth “Join the Fight” 7′ inch and accompanying sticker at the legendary Some Records. While by no means were Crippled Youth one of my favorite HXC bands. They played one of the first Hardcore matinees I ever attended. Soon after, perhaps due to the urging of friend and Youth of Today frontman Ray Cappo. They would change their name to BOLD and go on to release one full length “Speak Out” and a self titled 7″ on Revelation Records. As I mentioned before Crippled Youth / BOLD were never personal favorites. However, being that “Join the Fight” was one of my earlier Hardcore records and more important, how I lost it when a close friend who had borrowed my copy just weeks before when he unexpectedly went to prison for a vicious murder. It remains ever-present in my mind as part of my history. Seeing that sticker for the first time in more than twenty-five years jogged a lot of memories both good and bad. Being that it came from someone who has become such a good friend brought a sense of closure. Amazing how often people with shared common interests and histories can be found just down the hall . Thanks Kevin. J.D.

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Interview Spotlight; Nathan Gray

It’s not everyday you get to interview someone whose music and overall message has inspired you for twenty plus years. Chances are you’re going to miss out on some things you may have wanted to ask or fumble over some of your words. In the case of Nathan Gray, (Boysetsfire, I am Heresy and a just released solo effort.) I knew this was inevitable. With so much ground to cover and a couple of subjects I wasn’t sure were up for discussion. I tired to keep my questions to a reasonable number while keeping the door open to further discussion and dialogue. 

In creating Document Fanzine, both Jason and myself set out to communicate with the people that have affected us through their music and art. To celebrate and bring light to the music and people that have always inspired us. Get to know them on more than one level and in essence, give them a voice as well as a soundboard to speak. Thanks to Nathan for his patience and openness. J.D.

James: Can you tell me how the idea to do a solo album came about? I mean with all the things you’re involved in.. two bands, your son.. etc. Where did you find the time and what was it that inspired these songs?

Nathan: Wanting to take on a solo musical endeavor is nothing new for me. The Casting Out was actually supposed to be a solo project, but I lost my nerve, and brought in other people. Now, at this stage of my life, just felt like the right time to dive in and do it. It has been absolutely amazing so far!

If you want something bad enough, you make the time for it. It really is as simple as that. I’m not afraid of hard work. My family… my music, both are extremely important to me, and luckily I have support from each of those loves, to continue to grow and nurture the other.

James: I have to admit. I had no idea what to expect and this record was nothing I expected. While it wasn’t what I’d call “something that had to grew on me”. I would definitely say this is a record I needed to absorb before reaching out to you. Can you share how this journey begin and what the process was like?

Nathan; I think it’s safe to say that MOST people didn’t know what to expect with this project, and I sort of like it that way. People hear that the singer from their favorite band is going solo, and they (somewhat rightly) expect it to be another man-and-acoustic-guitar sort of thing, because that’s generally what happens. But, that really wasn’t me, and it wasn’t the sort of creative and emotional outlet I wanted, or needed.

Within the I AM HERESY albums, we always included these dark, emotive segways which tied the songs together. nathandanielmainThose pieces somewhat inspired what the solo endeavor is. I knew that I wanted that sound and feeling in my project. I began writing, and reached out to my Dan, who was always that friend of ours who was doing his own thing, engulfed in electronic, and industrial music. I knew he would be the perfect person to help me bring my vision to life. From there, the songs started to take shape, and the endeavor started to solidify itself in style and content.

James: There’s a soft spoken strength to the record that’s very moving. In a sense, it felt as it was a perfect vehicle to deliver these songs. What was it that guided this approach?

Nathan: My personal ideology is very much at the forefront of what I produce as Nathan Gray. As a Satanist, it is my responsibility to create myself in my own best image. That means overcoming hindrances, strengthening myself, creating, and exercising my carnality.

469x470-cJames: Can you tell me about the narration throughout the record?

Nathan: I believe you are asking about the spoken samples within the EP, and if so, these are clips taken from various movies, which suited the mood of each song. There is the clip at the beginning of “Wolves” that everyone loves, which comes from the film “The Dunwich Horror.”

James: The lyrics themselves have a certain historic feel to them. There seems to be a common theme throughout. What are these songs rooted in?

Nathan: These songs are inspired by my personal, continued quest to create my own vital existence. They are ritual celebrations of, invocations of, or releases from all the carnal emotions, that can make or break a human.

James: As a photographer and someone who is visually drawn to photographs that tell a story or evoke emotion. I felt myself drawn to the cover image. For me personally, it brought a lot of things to mind including mental health, loneliness and inner strength. Can you tell me about the photo, who took it and what it represents in relation to the EP?

Nathan: The cover art for the EP was done by an incredibly talented friend of mine named Tom Bejgrowicz of Man Alive Creative. I have worked with Tom many times over the years, as he has created art for Boysetsfire, I Am Heresy, and now, my solo endeavor.

Using images he shot at an abandoned hospital, and then combining them with a stark white version of my personal sigil, he came up with something bold and mysterious that I absolutely love. As far as what it represents, I feel that it, as with most art, is best interpreted by the individual. The magic is contained in what it means, and does, for YOU.

James: What was it that initially sparked your interest to Satanism? Did you grow up in a particularly religious household?

Nathan: I grew up within the Christian church, both parents being actively involved within it my entire life. My first introduction to Satanism came at quite a young age, and it was through films we were shown in church. They were meant to warn us of the dangers of sin, and assured us that Satan was the enemy. Through those films, I was introduced to Anton LaVey, the man who founded The Church of Satan, and I was fascinated with him immediately.

James: What do you feel are the biggest misconceptions? For you personally, what are the most important truths?

Nathan: The absolute biggest misconception about Satanism, is that we worship Satan. Worshipping a deity other than ourselves would be ridiculous to us, and very much a Christian way to act. Aside from that, the next, and most horrific misconception, is that we kill or maim humans, and/or animals. We absolutely do not. Just as we don’t drink blood, encourage drug use, or rally to erect ridiculous religious statues on government property.

“Satanism demands study-not worship.” This means that we know the difference (or similarity!) between fantasy and reality, that we are in a constant search for our OWN truths, and that we are responsible for, and master of, our own destinies.

(While I understand the next two questions may be very or too too personal to discuss. I have had many friends and family suffer from addiction. Therefore I am genuinely interested and concerned.) I thoroughly respect your decision if it’s something you’d like to keep personal.

James: Most people our age don’t have the chance to play side by side in a band with their son. Yet you have been doing just that. What has it been like having your own flesh and blood right by your side performing with you?

Nathan: It is, of course, an incredible feeling. It certainly gave us a chance to connect in a way most parents don’t get to do. To share all that time creating together, and then touring together, was a once in a lifetime sort of opportunity, and I am really happy we were able to share that. I hope to someday possibly share that experience with youngest son, as well.

James: You recently fought an epic battle in regards to your son. How is he doing and how is his recovery coming along?

Nathan: Simon continues to fight, and is committed to getting his life back. We are extremely proud of his progress, and hope that he continues to move forward.

James: Was the solo album and the new BSF intended to be released around the same time?

Nathan: It wasn’t intentional, but they certainly happened that way. The solo EP re-release came just before the Boysetsfire album release, and I can assure you that it was a complete whirlwind. It still is! There were back to back releases AND tours, so to say it’s been a busy year, would be an understatement. But, I thrive off that sort of chaos, so it’s been an amazing ride.

James: Is there any (for lack of a better word) fear that, perhaps due to familiarity, your solo effort might be overshadowed by…

Nathan: Not at all. My friends and fans have faithfully followed me through each new adventure. Aside from that, both bands are completely different, and to compare them, or worry about overshadowing one with another would be somewhat silly. There are new fans to each band that have come from the other.

James: You’re set to tour Europe in support of the new album. Do you have any solo gigs planned where you’ll be able to perform these songs? (Understand I wrote this question a few weeks before it was sent to you.)

Nathan; I’m actually on tour as we speak! And I do not have any solo shows planned on the Boysetsfire tour, but hope to return with Dan soon, for another run of Nathan Gray shows.                                                                                                  boysetsfire

James: I Think it goes without saying that Boysetsfire were a band that not only renewed and strengthened my love of Hardcore, BSF almost single handedly got me through some very rough patches. I say this because I recently (not sure how recently, but it stuck in my gut.) read somewhere
that the band felt a sense of dissatisfaction in regards to their success. If true, why? And in the end. How do you measure success as a band and as an artist?

I’m not entirely sure why anyone would think that we are, or ever have been, dissatisfied with our success. Boysetsfire is still making albums, and still playing sold out shows after over 20 years. That is an INCREDIBLE success, and one we do not take for granted. Simply put, success is defined individually, and I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am damn pleased with what I’ve accomplished in my life. I’m not even close to being done yet…

To purchase NTHN GRY click Here . To learn more about Nathan Gray you can go Here . For more information about BoySetsFire, the new album and their tour. You can log on to the band’s website  http://www.boysetsfire.net/

Strife – Incision

war001“Incision” features four new tracks that continue Strife’s legacy as one of the best Hardcore acts to come in the last twenty plus years. The release also marks first on War Records, a new label owned by Strife’s guitar player, Andrew Kline. And while these four songs match up very well with what we’ve come to expect from the band. “Incision” doesn’t exactly set itself apart from anything the band has written in the past. Making this feel like a mere pit stop in what has been an incredible race. In addition, pressing and pricing what is essentially an EP as an LP leaves to question whether or not to invest in the vinyl version. In my case, I was quite disappointed when mine arrived with no download code. I could have saved a few dollars as well as some shelf space downloading this from iTunes. While Strife remain an important cog in my appreciation for Hardcore and the bands who continue to fly that flag. With the lack of listening options provided. “Incision” will most likely end up in a pile with all of the other records I rarely pull out of the shelf. J.D.

Available Here

 

 

Sulynn’s Propagandhi Audition Footage

Last week we all heard the great news that our old friend and guitar god Sulynn Hago (Feral Babies, Ink & Sweat) would be joining the legendary Canadian band Propoghandi. While we were all pretty excited about the news. I never  thought I be watching the audition as it took place. This is just some amazing footage worth everyone’s attention. I’d be a fool not to share it. Enjoy, J.D.

Delete History – S/T

Remember when Straightedge gangs roamed the streets of upstate NY enforcing curfews and wrecking havoc on those who failed to adhere to the ten commandments of living a clean and sober lifestyle. No? Me either. My only memories of the area is the tasty burritos I enjoyed while passing through the cold, unforgiving streets of Binghamton.

a0085006166_16Delete History offer something quite interesting and tangible with this six song offering. The band collects local Binghamton musicians Guitarist/Singer Dave Garris, Bassist/Singer Kyle Serlington and Drummer Jason Kruger. Coalescing to form an impressive Hardcore unit.  A notable follow up to their 2013 self titled ten song debut. Delete History may just overshadow what they’ve accomplished with prior bands Sepsis, The Serlingtons and             Intoxicated Youth. Musically, Delete History are both chaotic and melodic. Fast paced Hardcore led by Guitarist / Singer Dave Garrris. I was especially impressed with the songs emotive vocal approach. Powerful, yet not overpowering. Emotive, yet not syrupy like many bands associated with the term Emo. The driving guitar leads spearhead the attack. Carving a path for the chaotic rhythms you’ll here on these songs. Excellent stuff. J.D.

Available Here