Posted by: Necci – Jun 29, 2012
Sorry I missed last week, y'all. I've got less reviews this time, also, and they're shorter. The whole reason I do this column is because I often don't have time to give records a more proper critical treatment. Sometimes I guess I don't even have time to type out a bunch of babble about them, either. But I hope you enjoy this one for what it is if nothing else. Have a great weekend! --Andrew
Municipal Waste/Toxic Holocaust - Toxic Waste split LP (Tankcrimes)
I've been digging the recent spate of new material from Municipal Waste more than I've liked any of their stuff in years, and this new split LP is no exception. I'm thinking they've been reinvigorated by the move to their new label Nuclear Blast--and there's plenty of evidence to support that conclusion in my interview with vocalist Tony Foresta, which you can look for in the new issue of RVA Magazine, hitting the streets in a couple of weeks! Anyway, part of what they like about their new label deal is the opportunity to do one-off releases on other labels, and this Tankcrimes release is the first of what will hopefully be many new records to come out of that arrangement. The Waste's two songs here are rad as hell, as I've already implied--"Trapped In The Sites" is a slower tune, with a midtempo main section of the song that eventually drops into a great moshy breakdown. I doubt they'd be nearly as good a band if they sounded like this all the time, but as a change of pace it's awesome. "Mourning Sex" is a more typical speedy thrash track, though it's actually longer than the slower song it shares the Waste side of this record with, which is a bit surprising. Also, with a title like that, I'm wondering if the lyrics might be a post-Y2K update on TSOL's "Code Blue." I could listen more closely and figure that out, I'm sure, but I'm actually OK with it remaining a mystery. Toxic Holocaust's side of the split is my first time hearing that band, but they've got a similar thrash sound to that of Municipal Waste, although where the Waste sound upbeat and fun most of the time, Toxic Holocaust have a darker, angrier feel. "We Bring Em Hell" is a fast tune with a pretty thick breakdown towards the end. "Altar-ed States" is even darker, faster, and chunkier, and makes me think of the San Diego hardcore band Gehenna--which is high praise coming from me. Overall, this record is a straight-up winner through and through--my only objection is the fact that both sides are less than 5 minutes long, a huge waste (no pun intended) of vinyl on a 12 inch record. If this record had been stretched out with a couple of additional songs by each band, I don't think anyone would have complained. Still, when all I'm complaining about is that it's over way too quick, you know you've got a solid effort on your hands.
Dew-Scented - Icarus (Prosthetic Records)
I think this band must have been switched at birth. Is there some wimpy indie rock band out there with a really gnarly-sounding name that would fit way better with a metal band? If so, someone should call that band's mother because I've found her real child. Dew-Scented plays fast, brutal metal with no prevarication. There are occasional blast beats but their typical speed is closer to fast late-80s thrash--think Slayer circa Reign In Blood. But the music has a more modern sound, reminiscent of modern American groove metal stuff, only way faster for the most part. There are some really good breakdowns here as well; these guys know how to get their mosh on. They also know not to abuse the slow tempos, and keep it speedy most of the time. Dew-Scented are German in origin, and I can definitely hear the influence of bands like Kreator and Sodom in their sound--if you like those bands, and you're into hearing their style of metal recorded with a modern production sound, then you'll dig this record.
City Lights - In It To Win It (In Vogue Records)
These guys do the "easycore" thing that was a pretty popular sound a couple of years ago--and for all I know, still is in certain circles. Easycore is a crossbreed of pop-punk and melodic posi-core that draws its template from bands like Lifetime and early Fall Out Boy. Polished, melodic vocals that are almost always clean, equally melodic guitar leads, three-chord riffs played on chunky-sounding guitars with palm-mutes and breakdowns--you get the idea. Set Your Goals, Four Year Strong, and Fireworks were the kings of that sound circa 2010, and while City Lights aren't quite on the same level as the best work by any of those bands, they're making a respectable showing on this album. Some fun choruses to sing along to, some nice blends of chunky breakdown-type riffs with melodic vocals, and the obvious sound of a bunch of boys having a lot of fun playing their music. But it just doesn't stick with me the way the best examples of this genre do, so I won't recommend this record to anyone who isn't a diehard fan of the easycore sound. However, if you are a diehard fan, these guys are better than a good many other groups who are finding success in the genre--I definitely like them better than Wonder Years, for example. You know whether you want this or not.
Grass Widow - Internal Logic (HLR)
It's true, y'all, the 90s are back. Grass Widow aren't the first or even the hundredth piece of evidence I could produce to support that argument, but they certainly are a forceful one. Resurrecting the sound of DC-area indie rock from the early 90s this accurately is not the easiest thing in the world to do, but they've really pulled it off well. From Velocity Girl to Tsunami to Tiger Trap to Black Tambourine, they evoke damn near every female-fronted jangly-guitar indie group from that era, creating a sound that would have fit perfectly on a Simple Machines or TeenBeat comp from 1994. Funnily enough, they also remind me of the early 80s postpunk groups who most prominently influenced that early-90s scene--Young Marble Giants, first-LP Raincoats, Marine Girls, etc. And while nothing here is a particularly standout track that will immediately get stuck in your head or anything, these songs are still subtly enjoyable, making for a very solid album. They've got enough grit and toughness in the bass and the undistorted but frenetically strummed guitars to be jangly without being twee, so there's no risk of this record getting overly cloying. Internal Logic stacks up well alongside the best work by Small Factory, Heavenly, and all the other early 90s groups I've already mentioned. So hearing this album now, at a time when no one is really doing this sound, is quite a welcome experience. Recommended.
By Andrew Necci