The Scott Burns Project IV – Massacre: From Beyond

16644So my final exam for the current year of University is tomorrow (but seeing as I’ve written this week’s entry in advance, THE PAST), and instead of reading two of the books I’ve read NONE of this semester I’ve decided to do a load of Scott Burns album reviews. Here is Massacre’s From Beyond, unquestionably one of the more important BANDS on the scene, if responsible for an album of diminished importance and its followup EP. Massacre’s members were each at one stage members of Death and their demos, through the once-prevalent tape-trading scene, managed to influence a LOT of people. They actually spilt before releasing any professional recordings but were convinced to reform for the sake of getting this album out, and perhaps did so just to be able to prove how much other folks had ripped off from them. Barney Greenway, for example, has taken his ENTIRE vocal range from Kam Lee’s guttural grunts and ebullient “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYY”s. Dani Filth, too, took cues from Lee’s screeching wails. Massacre’s general attitude to riffs proved influential too. It’s just a shame their debut, as in official debut, came out later than it ought to have.

The production on the album is suitable for the era, and comes from 1991 – THE year for Burns recordings and US death metal in general. In ‘91 the genre reached a natural peak, with a glut of great recordings jostling for position in what must have been heaven for new listeners back twenty years ago. Ah. To have not been four, and a citizen of the UK. The guitars have a lovely Burns buzz, though it occasionally might take you a couple extra seconds to make out the actual chords. The vocals are buried in the mix, but to continue the metaphor, have also burst free as would a rotting corpse and sit somewhat slightly more obscured by aural dirt than they should. The drums sound fine, and tinilly compliment the guitars. Overall, a solid production job. The album, produced by Colin Richardson with Burns engineering, is in terms of name value at least, is a fucking dream collaboration.

The first track “Dawn Of Eternity”, is a death metal classic. If death metal worked the same way Jazz does, EVERY band would play this song at some stage in their career. Cradle Of Filth covered it in 1999 to great effect, but the original boasts the most menace and sonic charisma of any version I’ve heard. Seeing as it’s simply perfect, I’d actually rather you listened to it than read what I have to say about it, because it’s essential death top to toe.

The second track, “Cryptic Realms”, is less death metal than aggressive sentiment-free metal with grunted vocals, and I’ve always been a lot less fond of it, but at one stage Kam delivers an incredible faded scream that sounds like a fucking EAGLE. It’s awesome. There’s a riff that’s easy to bounce to later in the song, though, which saves its spot on my iTunes list. Also, I guess I forgot Rick Rozz was on this album, but no, there’s that bloody whammy bar. In fact, I’d wager every track on the album features egregious use of the whammy bar.  Let’s see. The song does that coolish/groan-inducing thing of slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwww…….in….g down, at the end.

The snare hit that announces the thrash of the next song seems cheeky in comparison. The track, ”Biohazard”, has nothing going for it, and even cheaps out on the same slow-down ending. Weak.

The next track, though, opens with the same keys effect as the crows/ painting puzzle room in the first Resident Evil game before going into some Terminator-score sound effects. It’s a welcome change of pace and much more like the first track than the thrash wankery of the previous two. It’s exciting, each and every time I hear it. The riff sounds like a fucking FACTORY, and the drums come in with a drawn out “ooooorrrrgggghhh”, but it’s the NEXT riff that’s the best on the album. Truly SCARY death metal riff, right there. Sadly, the following riff is much more standard, and it becomes apparent that owing to their status as one of the earliest death metal bands (explained above), there’s no way they could be ALL death metal. Their influential parts are what sounds coolest, but the parts where they tread the metal waters lightly is way less exciting, in general.

“From Beyond” has a cheesy keys section I really like in the middle, but you’ve to wade through shit to get there. Man, this album is wearing me out. I’m definitely in the wrong line of work here, gang!

“Defeat Remains” is one of the STUPIDEST sounding songs I’ve ever heard. I can imagine 1990s football jocks just jumping up and down to it on an empty pitch at night. It’s awful altogether. It has an even dumber riff later on that just sounds like it would be so easy to play you could only get bored in doing so. Whammy bar solo. Oh. Wow.

Bad wow. Cause of what I said earliPAYATTENTION!

“Succubus” is more of the same. Slappy drumming, whammy bar, barking, riff you’d never remember. God, this band is inspiration-free, despite their tendency to LITERALLY inspire loads of famous bands.

Skipping the next track entirely, we come to “Corpsegrinder”, which was originally a Death track (though shouldn’t they all be, technically?) Anyway, it starts off in the good old Death Metal tradition – copying Slayer with a load of guitar noise. It kinda sounds, in some ways, like the first death metal song ever recorded, due to its simplicity. It may have been. WE’LL NEVER KNOW.

Also, years later, Ed Repka’s original cover was recoloured for a second release. Lookit:


You know what those monsters need? Piercings. Anyway, which to your preference is have? Is send letter to Col. Giveafuck, care of Notwantopinionforreal Army Base, North South Texasville.

Seeing as this entry was a little light as I was so burned out, I’ll cover the EP Inhuman Condition as well. My defining memory of this disc was listening to it while hunting Golden Geckos in Fallout: New Vegas on PS3. The title track has a lot more personality. I can only presume that after reuniting to re-record classic material on their debut, the decision to release this EP was because they had NEW songs, because the attitude on here is certainly newer. The production is meatier, and sounds less contrived, if that makes any sense. It sounds livelier, less automated. The song has some cool sections. It’s still thrash-heavy but has more of a groove to it, and a really ugly bass-only section I really dig. There’s also a great breakdown in the middle which predates that as a trend by a year or two, as far as this genre is concerned at least.

STOP NOW. Turns out Burns didn’t even produce it. Therefore I actively refuse to listen to it. Dammit, HAVE 19th CENTURY BOOKS TO BE NOT READING!

What will next Saturday’s post hold? I know someone who knows, but he’s not saying. See you then, budzzz.

The Scott Burns Project III – Deicide: Deicide, Legion, Once Upon The Cross & Serpents Of The Light

D4I thought I’d do a little Deicide, mainly because Deicide comes up on my shuffle and annoys the hell out of me a LOT. Why have you got music that annoys the hell out of you (a LOT) on your iPod, Paul, you fucking jerk? You big big jerk? Why? TELL US! Well, it’s like this, see. Like a lot of people my age, I was 16 once.

That’s it. I liked Deicide for a while. I don’t think I do any more. Anyway, I’ve decided to do the whole Deicide run in the one go, so I can clear out the clutter once and for all. I know of a few tracks I might keep, but I don’t think there’ll be many.

First album, Deicide (which is one of those select few albums by a band that is called the band and also has a song called the band), kicks off with what sounds like a prison gate opening/ closing. The track boasts a lot of weird blasting that’s just like semi-speedy alternating on the hats and snare that’s miles away from what Steve would do on later albums. There’s also a prevalence of Glen Benton’s distinct double-tracked vocals, and also a lot of that triple-pitching thing they do for Deadites in the Evil Dead movies, which’ll become more pertinent later. Now, unlike this site’s most esteemed host, I like blasting. I like refined blasting, but I also like messy, try-hard blasting like on early Napalm Death records. The blasting on Deicide, though, is my least favourite type of blasting – “why not” blasting. Also see many of Cannibal Corpse’s slower songs for unnecessary instances of this happening. Not enough variety = Get blasting! Ruins things.

The second track, though, has a cool buildup and a great double bass drum pattern that switches naturally into this really cool groove, before some more WNB (Why Not Blasting). The song then switches between the two while my brain switches between the On and Off positions, presumably Off because this musical is intellectually malnourishing and On to, you know, make sure my body keeps running and that sort of thing. It’s a crap song, overall, with a good part, so let’s talk about the production. The bass may as well not be there, but the guitars are good and clear and you can hear everything. The drums are tinnier than I’d like, but that’s probably Deicide’s fault for some reason and not Mighty Scott’s. Besides, later Burns/’Cide albums sound noticeably better.

Ah, “Oblivious To Evil”, and a quote from Evil Dead. This one has an archetypal US DM riff and a slow beat and I love the shit out of it. But, it’s doomed for slappy shitty shit shit blasting in a minute. Who has the PATIENCE for Deicide? Jesus, the way these weird slow blasts are played with the hat closed robs the flow out of them and make it sound SO amateur. It’s awful. Listen to the blasting on Terrorizer’s World Downfall. That hat sound, I swear, that MAKES the album. This is just crap. Fucking CRAPOLA.

At least the songs are short.

Then “Dead By Dawn” happens and it’s like “Ah, THIS is where they were heading with all that”. It’s an Evil Dead concept song. Pretty cool, though it’s place on an album of satanic death metal seems unjustified. And again, I’m sorry, but what sounded life-affirming at 16 just sounds like fucking tarmac to me now. There’s something anthemic in that final “Dawn…Dead by Dawn”, but it takes a lot of work to get there. The best thing on this ALBUM is the little call and response “we are” sections that actually sound like the meandering tosspot zomboids from what is unquestionably my favourite movie (this week), Evil Dead 2.

Seeing as “Blaspherion” is like the self-aware album’s equivalent of realising what I’ve said about it and proto-teenager rebelling against me by just doing more of the same louder and for longer, let’s discuss that album cover. Who settled on that? It’s nothing. It’s not a thing at all. Here is a gold, fucking, bit of circle and some red eyes. Buy me!

“Blaspherion” kinda sounds like that song, you know the one, the first track you write as a band that you feel deserves a place on the debut album out of nostalgia or some sense of honour, but really it’s far below your current playing level. Yes, we’ve ALL released studio albums and can benefit from this analogy, fuck yoUUUUUUUU.

Up next, Deicide with “Deicide” from the album Deicide, from the year 1991. Inconsiderate fucks. They could at least have released it in the year Deicide. It sounds like it might have something going for it with the weird timing of the opening cymbal catches, but the band’s attitude to song structure and playing style soon collude to rob any potential it might have of appealing to me.  I’d like to compensate for not being able to talk about the songs by talking about how I got into Deicide but I can’t for the life of me recall. It must have been a teen assimilation thing. I can remember familiarising with The Stench Of Redemption during summer factory work, and Till Death Do Us Part in the halls of Coleraine University. And that’s it. Hmm.

So then there’s loads more of the same, with no variation or notable increase in quality, for about ten minutes.

Then the last song happens and I pay literally no attention beyond the opening riff (which is one of my favourite ‘types’ of riff) because I just CAN’T.

So fuck that fucking album, anyway. Every track, gone. Let’s move right ahead. I’m sure there’s positivity to come, still.

AH! This is the one with the Scorsese sample to open. From that Jesus film. With Armor-King-Stage-In-Tekken-and-Tekken-2 spooky wind and distorted sheep chatting. No, I’m wrong. It isn’t. Yeah, it has that, but that’s next-album stuff. Wow. The production on this is really weird. The bass is CRAZY loud, but not that defined.  It mixes with the guitar so well, though. And Glen sounds a lot deeper. They’re trying hard at playing more complicated material and it’s doing wonders for my enjoyment levels. The song has no real respect for the traditional verse-chorus-bridges-etc. structure, and Steve’s drumming is really interesting. This is hard as shit to air drum along to. But, because Im Am Coole, I do anyway (emoticon of sunglasses smiley face).

Interestingly, this album is shorter than their already noticeably brief debut by some three minutes. It’s less than half an hour, actually. Interesting. I respect that with Deicide, there’s a no-filler attitude. Despite, you know, that entire first disc of filler. The one that came out in nineteen ninety-DEICIDE on ROADDEICIDE RECORDS.

SO yeah, “Satan-Spawn The Caco-Demon”. I liked that alright. The next track, “Dead But Dreaming” has similarly complex drumming and riffing, but sadly confirms this album as another one trick-pony. Sure, this pony’s trick is like, well, it’s all “Holy FUCK pony, that is aMAZing”, but it’s still “jesus, EVERY night? Come off it ya brown bastard”.

This album’s cover looks to me like just another circular thing on some black with some red at first, but on closer inspection it’s either a kinda 3D pentagram seen from a silly angle or a shot of Power Rangers Villain Lord Zedd…from a silly angle. Either way it’s a dung sandwich.

The song ends like it forgot how to keep being.

In fact, so much like it forgot how to keep being that the next track just sounds like a breakdown thereof. It’s no good either though. God, Deicide are kinda awful. It’s the sorta deal where one track in isolation is pretty impressive but a big bunch of them is like, I dunno, like TEN Sausage McMuffins. Sure who’d want that? Not even the fattest fatty of all (Courtney Turnbuckle of Seamus Creek, Salisbury, New New New York York).

The next track (or maybe it’s later on, I can track this like I can track minutes spent sleeping) has some God-bashing and I think it seems a little unfair. Look at it this way, right, if God wasn’t about, Decide would have literally NO hook to sell albums on other than their “this is mediocre but it has Satanism for bonus lulz so buy, kids” shtick.

God, these songs are like bullies. Leave me ALONE!

I’m having a shit time here. Roll on that third album, whatever it’s called. The Jesus cover one.

You know they used Deicide music to torture prisoners? The yanks, I mean. I swear, I can’t think logically at the minute. Shit works.

So yes, Scott Burns. This album has a lot more personality in the mix. I know there’s a few other Burns albums that sound like this, I just can’t remember which because DEICIDE. Now, there’s REALLLLY cool section in the middle of “In Hell I Burn”, and I’ll consider keeping it just for that. Sorry, where was I? Yes, so it sounds interesting, but so far Burns hasn’t nailed anything on the wall for Deicide that’ll stick in my craw. Maybe it’s because of the way the instruments are played, but for sure the guitar tone isn’t as BEST EVER like it is on other Burns albums. Frankly, I’m on two albums in a row here I couldn’t wait to finish.

Also uncool is the last track, just on naming aesthetics alone. “Revocate The Agitator”. Oh fuck OFF, Deicide. You know what ‘revocate’ has underneath it in Microsoft Word, Deicide? A FUCKING JAGGED RED LINE. We all know what that means. We all know exactly what that means, you torturous fuck sandwich of a band.

So onto Once Upon The Cross, (yah, it’s called Once Upon The Cross, I just couldn’t remember, ‘member, because Deicide). I KNOW I like a few tracks on this one. Right? Read on, gentle spuck…

Oh shit, this sounds AWESOME. The good bass/guitar thing from the previous album, a nice sonic pierce (yeah, I don’t know how to describe music…) to the hi-hats, nice ringy ride cymbal, punch in the bass drum, Glen finding his perfect mid range. Good arrangement. “Once Upon The Cross” has such great dynamics (the song, that is). Can this keep up for another half hour (wait…yeah, less, this is ANOTHER minute shorter. It’s like a self-imposed challenge. That said, though, if a band can get better with increasingly short albums, they are striving for a totality of efficiency I can really get behind). So this song is totally awesome. Even the barely-audible solo is cool.

Oh, and I fucking love “Christ Denied” as well, with it’s lovely chuggy intro it’s really hard to get used to. It’s not super technical but the timing is really knotty nonetheless. They’ve really learned something between the first two albums and this, though. When it gets to the CHRIST DENIIIIIIIIIIIIIIED that closes the chorus it really has weight, like it means something (Christ was all “can a brother get a bagel?”, and we were just straight up “bagel THIS God boy” – two middle fingers, Christ DENIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIED”). I also love the last little stretch, that sprint to the finish line. Cool song.

“When Satan Rules This World” is like a quasi-redo, fuck, no, A DO-OVER (!) for “Oblivious To Evil”, with the same type of riff and drum beat (think “Rape Me” to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”) but the drums sound so cool with the ride bell. Also, Steve knows what he’s doing, so well. It took them a while, but Deicide sound like a professional band on this one. Very impressive. Well done lads! The post-chorus is total death metal heaven – nasty riff, weird timing, killer production. And not one of these tracks, so far, has had any Why Not Blasting, filler flapping, or outlasted its welcome in general. Deicide found their formula, here, and well done for it.

“Kill The Christian” is aesthetically like a bridge between this and the first album, but because the first three tracks were so good I’ll let them off with it…THIS time.

“Trick Or Betrayed” has that awesome “Are you the Messiah?” “Norr – werr are Not” sample before some excellent SURPRISE MUSIC – there’s a lead section that sounds like Deicide’s Egyptian cousin (Egyptian Deicide, oh my god man, they’re awe-sommmme). Super cool. Burns deserves a lot of praise here but the real heroes are Deicide. Yes. Talk about puling your thumb out.

(Of your fuckin’ ASSHOLE).

“They Are The Children of The Underworld” has so much going for it. A few really great riffs (that are either more or way less complicated than they sound) and a really cheesy little hi-hat swishy thing. I am glee incarnate with this track. It’s great. Altogether. I think one of the lines Glen barks is “THEY HAVE NO NECK”. I love that, even if I’m wrong. Also, the way the Slayer beat is broken up with those little china trash smashes. It’s a great, great song. Did I mention I dig its balls hard yo? Here is it:

“Behind The Light Thou Shall Rise” sounds like it should be the big single. It’s got that “this is the one” feel that a lot of big metal tracks have. It’s not even in the album’s top five tracks, no way, but it has…star quality? Mmm.


“To Be Dead” (the FANTASTICALLY titled “To Be Dead”!) has such a menacing quality to it but it’s a little superfluous. I could maybe do without it. It’s total mid-90s maxi-single fodder.

SHUT UP PAUL. Its solo sounds like a drunk ghost falling down a spiral staircase. He’s already dead, so it doesn’t hurt, so all his friends are cheering. Yay ghost!

“Confessional Rape” (and seeing as I can do without song titles with rape in ‘em, let alone subject matters, I’ve rechristened this one “Confessional Rap”, and imaged it’s a portrait of one Father Maxi Allcool and his attempts to get ghetto youths off the streets with inspirational thematic rapping at mass, and how Deicide bust in and kick his ASS!)

It’s not a great closer, but overall it’s a solid 7/10 album. Pleasantly re-surprised. Now…Serpents Of The Light, and the last stand of Burns and the ‘Cide.

Shit! I remember now! I had a copy of an old Roadrunner compilation called Attitude (or it was Download 1, the same Download which ended becoming the same-named festival) and it had “Serpents…” on it, and I loved it, and hence Deicide interest. Velly intelesting. So yes, first thing apparent on this album should be that there is NO bass and the guitar sounds like bonus demo tracks for the whole record. Also, a lot of the tracks seem to follow a strict structure, like they’re alternative versions of each other. As I remember it. Let’s see if that holds up.

Also, “Serpents Of The Light” is perfectly refined mid-‘90s metal. Death metal it may be, but this is a ‘90s anthem, ask me.

“Bastard of Christ” has a cool opening and some really straightforward ridey blasting, and it hits me I recall this as a considerably less complicated Deicide album. I bet they got labelled sellouts over it. Personally, I’d label them idiots just for including the line “hang the bitch on the cross”. I hate any use of the word ‘bitch’, for the record, with the sole exception of the brief Will Ferrell Bitch Hunter sketches fro 30 Rock. It just makes me fucking squirm. It also sounds like he says “holy shit! Pacifist!” at one stage, would more than make up for it.

Yeah, no doubt though, these songs definitely sound like different riffs laid over the same structure. Three tracks in and twice I’ve thought “oh, there’s the same track again”. Count ‘em. Makes sense. I am smart.

“This is Hell We’re In”. More of the same. Bland. “I Am No One”. Ugh. This is going RIGHT in the bin. “Slave To The Cross” tries to throw a little newness in the mix with a weird spiralling guitar thing and slowness but it’s still super fastness. It’s crap though. This is so incredibly phoned in.

Seeing as every track between here and “Father Baker’s” is awful, let’s chat about…no, well, OK, do me a favour. Just look at that album cover. Look at it. Digest it. Drink it in. If you don’t mind, analyse it. SEE it. Everything you see, someone THOUGHT about that. Made a decision. WITH WHAT LOGIC? No logic. Very silly. Here it is, but massive.

Click and it gets bigger STILL

Click and it gets bigger STILL

So that’s me done with Deicide. Four albums down, and two hours later I feel very angry and exhausted and corrupted and… just off. Still, at least I salvaged a few tracks. Who’ll be next? Who knows?!


The Scott Burns Project II – Sepultura: Beneath The Remains

capaI once had a cherished copy of Beneath The Remains on vinyl that I received for Christmas not long after I’d started my very first job. Around that time, I’d started collecting rarities released by my favourite bands, and amassed an impressive collection of LPs, EPs, cassettes of demos and other assorted curios that I’ve sold since then with some amount of regret, simply because back around 2003-2006, rare stuff just wasn’t rare. A week wouldn’t go by with a copy or two of the Cradle Of Filth Coffin edition of Dusk…And Her Embrace popping up on eBay. Prices were still high, but at least you could find the things. Now, it’s a different matter altogether. It’s been a while since I’ve seen any of the metal rarities I once called my own on Ebay. My Beneath The Remains LP was particularly prized because it was autographed and came with an excellent poster of a very young Sepultura which took pride of place on my bedroom wall. What I liked about the idea of it being signed is that it captured  a moment that could no longer happen naturally. Now, a copy of Beneath The Remains signed by its original players could only be obtained by selective autograph-hunting. Whenever this copy was defaced, it meant nothing that those four men signed it at the same time. It wasn’t necessary to snatch it away from another person, pen in hand, because they didn’t play on it. Plus that poster was REALLY cool.

I never, though, got all the way into Beneath The Remains. Like Napalm Death’s Fear, Emptiness, Despair, it’s very much a Side A record. After Mass Hypnosis, I just lost interest. That was probably down to the fact that, thanks to live recordings of those songs, I was just more exposed to them. Let me run a little mental tic by you, here. Have you ever felt that songs from an album that aren’t either singles or at least recorded live on one occasion for commercial release are less worthy? It only applies to bands with lots of output, and in the 90s live B-Sides were a huge deal, but still, it always came across to me that if it wasn’t worthy of live play or having a video being made, why was it included on the record? I don’t think that so much now, and it never applied to albums I loved all the way through like Fear Factory’s Demanufacture, but for a band like Speultura, whose Arise, Chaos AD and Roots albums in particular were very extensively covered in live recordings, it became a bit of a thing for me. It wasn’t a choice, as such. I didn’t opt not to listen to the songs because they were beneath me. It just felt like there was less reason to listen to them.

So here we are. I know “Beneath The Remains”, “Inner Self”, “Stronger Than Hate” (which cheats, by being wedged between those other three live staples) and “Mass Hypnosis” like the back of my hand on each relevant air-instrument (and on actual drums, too), but the second half of the album is like a cousin I never see. I know the face, I know the name, but I don’t know what music they like or what their favourite book is. Time to find out, methinks, and with this last paragraph in mind, the only comment I have on Side A of Beneath The Remains is that that one section in the middle of Stronger Than Hate (it starts around 3:58 and lasts for about 20 seconds) is what I’d isolate to show someone like my dad, a priest, or a space alien (or “alien”) who wanted a succinct aural definition of the essence of thrash metal.

That poster I mentioned, handily obscured as though its seller didn’t want to part with it

First thing I need to mention is the production. This was an early job for Scott as producer, having already mixed a few recordings for the likes of Death and Nasty Savage. He was flown to Brazil at Christmas in 1988 to work nights because no-one else from Roadrunner wanted the job. Obviously it worked out for him, as with this and Obituary’s Slowly We Rot dropping in 1989 it really announced him as a go-to-guy for metal production, particularly for emergent sounds like Seps’ third-world aggression and Obituary’s groove-heavy death and improvised vocals. The production is very clear, a first for Sepultura, and nothing is lost in the mix. The guitars have a clean buzz to them and the riffs and solos are perfectly defined. The drums are another matter, with the toms sounding too, um, I guess “note-y” is the word I’m looking for. Perhaps they’re too highly tuned. There’s also this bizarre sensation that occurs when a crash cymbal and the bass drum are hit at the same time that appears on Death’s Leprosy and Spiritual Healing albums which is very hard to describe but doesn’t sound naturally possible, like the sound opens like a flower in some way your brain can only just comprehend and that had to have been added artificially in post. Hmm. If I find a specific example, I’ll point it out. Let’s start, though, with the oddly titled “Sarcastic Existence” (which is sadly, and I mean that, fucking SADLY, not a audio biography of Chandler Bing)

It kicks off with faded-in lone drums, which I like because I’m always excited to hear instruments in isolation on professionally recorded albums, and most especially the drums. The thrash riffing that’s going on here isn’t making me regret my decision to ignore this track for all those years, but there’s a nice lead section layered over it that speaks volumes about Sepultura’s knack for arrangement that led to them becoming one of the best metal acts in the world over the course of five years and after an endearingly laughable debut.  When the vocals kick in after nearly two minutes after a fade-up vocal thing, it really does feel like those very minutes were a complete waste of time. The sensation of “WHAT was the point?” is keenly felt. There’s a breakdown with a double-bass/ guitar pairing that’s pretty cool and I’m reminded how vastly better this is to Schizophrenia. Sepultura’s confidence on this album is infectiously exciting, for sure. They’ve idea’s to match their playing ability and I can see why this became so big. I should also confess I never got into thrash in a big way and it’s because of repetition the genre is built on, but there’s enough variation WITHIN the necessary repetition on BTR that it’s reputation is easily justified. Another awesome bass-and-hats section also proves why Igor is the standout musician of the group (though it was Max’s STILL-unique vocals that won fans over). The ending is particularly cool, with a you want a time signature? HERE’S FOUR IN AS MANY SECONDS tom roll thing and then a cut to silence.

Just the worst piece of merchandise that exists

Just the worst piece of merchandise that exists

“Slaves Of Pain” has another one of those 50-second-nonsense-intros, but when it gets to the chorus it’s like you’ve been waiting the whole album for it. It really does have that ‘it’s here’ sense about it.  Like when the chorus to “Don’t Stop Believing” comes in after three odd minutes of music. There’s a really short lead/solo bridge and then that awesome chorus again, before going back to the verse, and it occurs to me that this song has been nearly symmetrical so far, which is totally self-imposed but awesome nonetheless. Then, some soloing. Andreas has a good combination of shredding and note-noodling that I always liked. There’s a really heavy breakdown with a close-to-industrial riff, and then another of my favourite tricks in music, which is keeping the riff the same but doubling the tempo (RATM’s debut has several good examples of this). The next section is an album highlight, with an incredible riff and great drumming by Igor which has more ideas in twenty seconds than the rest of the song. Then the chorus again, a few bars of drum fills, two cymbal catches and CUT. In, out, down. Very efficient.

The timing on “Lobotomy” is very ambitious, but not showoffy, and works very well at adding another dimension to the thrash. I don’t care at all for the main verse riff, but I’m an asshole, so I let them away with it. There’s a cool section in the middle which sounds like a Disney villain deflating at a film’s climax, but I’m largely not involved in this song, so let’s talk about Michael Whelan’s amazing cover image of a man surrounded by great big stones and bigger-still flowers with a giant bat face, and all on a smoking skull YEARS before Stone Cold Steve Austin was WWF champion. Man, that was WORTH having on wax. I might get another copy just for that art (as this site’s owner, the esteemed Mr. K.C.Prog, would do ). Fun fact – the cover for Obituary’s Cause Of Death, another Whelan painting, was originally intended to serve as this album’s cover. Book nerds (like….YOU, right there!) also might recognize Whelan’s work from his Dark Tower illustrations for Steven King. He’s badass. I must see about getting a book of his work.

Shit, another song started, Jesus, a minute ago! More thrashing with personality, but my interest is definitely waning here. I’ll tell you one thing, I wish the hi-hats were a little more open. I hate the one-note feel they have here. It sounds too much like keeping time. Man, maaaan, that’s what the RIDE’S for, man. Hats is for groove yo. Let that shit breathe, Cavalera baby.

Seriously friends, I love Igor Cavalera so frigging much. This man is my drum idol. I’d say the vast majority of what I’ve stolen from other players comes from him, as does a great deal of my drumming body language. He’s my messy little dyed-blonde Brazilian batteria. Heart emoticon.

By the time “Primitive Future” (another awful title!) comes in, ’89 Seps have neatly settled into that category of bands I’d love to see live, at the time, preferably buzzing off energy drinks and good company, but wouldn’t listen to on record. Like post-Harmony Corruption Napalm Death. A night’s wreck-necking, no strings attached. Insert fellatio joke here, and mail to “Your mom, My Bed, Lawl’z Avenue, Tooting, America”

The chorus from “Slaves Of Pain”, no wait, that’s stupid, that whole song would have been a much better ending. All said and done, I’m keeping only two tracks – “Stronger Than Hate” and “Slaves Of Pain”. I’d have figured more, but so doth the cookie crumbleth. So long.

Next time – All FOUR of Burns’ collaborations with Deicide. Note – if you’re a Deicide fan, you might want to skip it… In the meantime, check out THIS article I wrote over at my own blog about how Beneath The Remains’ sleeve was edited for no damn reason at all when the album was re-released on CD in 1997, and happy tidings, Internet chums…

The Scott Burns Project I – Assuck: Anticapital/ Blindspot/ Misery Index

First off, a little stupidly long intro to what The Scott Burns Project is. Anticapital++Blindspot++3+7xxqs8k

I’d been listening to metal for many years before I began to really take notice of the impact the studio team has on a record’s sound. The first name that began to stick out regularly was Scott Burns, stalwart of Morrisound Studios in Tampa, Florida. That I liked the way Burns’ records sounded seemed less important to me after a while than how many of the bands I was really into at the time had made use of this guy’s talents to get their albums to sound a certain way. After a while, it got me thinking about what work he’d done outside of Roadrunner bands, hell, even for groups from outside America (Sepultura excepted, of course). About four summers ago, I began to hunt down as many Scott Burns-produced, mixed or engineered albums as I could and grouped them with those I already had, with a view to commencing a holistic study of where the appeal stemmed from. Then, as I so often do in the immediate wake of obsession, I forgot about it. In the four years since, tracks from those albums have bothered and delighted me in roughly even measure when appearing in shuffle playlists when I’ve been out and about or exercising, and I figured it was about time to finally devote the time to certain acts that deserved it (like Psychotic Waltz and Sean Malone) and banish others (including the interminable Assuck, covered in this very first double-length instalment). I’m not sure what I’ll get out of this, but if I were you I’d not expect it to be particularly insightful or even serious: though this is a journey of sonic exploration, it’s also a labour of love, and I intend on keeping it light-hearted as best I can. Let’s get stuck in with a band who share the dual honour of being the first on the list alphabetically and the first I wanted to get out of the way because of how often their hot stinking garbage 40-second tracks ruined a streak of great tunes when I was working out: Assuck.

The albums I’m listening to are 1991’s Anticapital and Misery Index from 1997. 1991 is held by some as the pinnacle of American Death Metal, and boasts more Burns albums than any other year, including several that rank as their respective band’s best work. It was a great time to be a death metal fan – the talent was eager and abundant and the general attitude of implied oneupsmanship resulted in the genre’s best-ever year. No-one told Assuck, I guess, because Anticapital is frankly unlistenable. This instalment’s review is likely to be as scattershot as the album itself, hiding as it does under the umbrella of ‘grindcore’ (like that WAS EVER A REAL FUCKING THING!), so forgive me if the following collation of thoughts seems less, well, organised than it should be.

First off, I’ll give it this: it has a really nice snare sound that’s different from the other 1991 Scott Burns albums, and lovely punchy bass drum kicks. On that point, check out Cannibal Corpse’s Butchered At Birth, Sepultura’s Arise and Cancer’s Death Shall Rise and tell me they haven’t all got the exact same snare sound. Anyway, a lot of the sound gets lost in the blasting. Assuck loves blasting. It’s a shame, and I guess a failure on Burns and co.’s part, but you’d be hard pressed to make out a lot of the actual riffs. The vocals sound like Barney’s from Napalm Death, which in turn sounded like Kam Lee’s. You’ll find the circle of influence is shorter in circumference than you’d think. Wow, that is a fuck ugly sentence. Anyway, Napalm Death. No! Assuck! Yeah, the drums on this album sound incredible, for sure. The drummer’s clearly the standout guy.

The whole album conjures nothing for me, though. No mental image. No emotion. No moments of awe at the musicianship. I can’t recall a single riff. The lyrics are incomprehensible, Though that’s an occupational hazard I guess. That’s like saying “screw you tiger, you’re FAR too orange and black”.

assuckGrindcore. I don’t get the appeal of this genre at ALL. I imagine, maybe, that at a gig, full of your chosen elixir (in my case, Red Bull ON THE ROCKS), it might me good to fling yourself about to, but this music doesn’t scream “record me for posterity’s sake. THERE MUST BE EVIDENCE”. Anticapital’s not designed to make money either, like a lot of albums. “Like a lot of albums”. ! Like ALL ALBUMS! I can’t even imagine them playing the songs the same way twice. It’s not like prog-tricky or anything, it’s just like… I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s like Assuck the porcelain band sounds like someone dropped them on jagged rock. There’s no one great hook on the album to remember, let alone any section that lasts more than one go around. I think they might hate music, and their music is awful. In fact, it’s really fucking shit, if I was to be harsher about it, and I can say with confidence I’ll never listen to any track from this album ever again.

There’s an EP tacked on the end that produced differently and actually sounds better. The chaos sounds more organic here. Still, that’s like boasting how Lucky Charms turn your bum chunder green. Green or not, shite’s shite. It’s also remarkable how long 24 minutes (the duration of this disc) can feel when you’re not enjoying yourself. You know what I could have done in 24 minutes? Fuck, I could have watched “Bart Gets An F”. I could have watched one of the best 24 minutes in human creation. Goddamn you, Assuck. At this rate, 20 songs in, it occurs to me it would be genuinely beneficial had the band named the tracks 1,2,3,4 and so on. Riven? Come on. This is The Ballad Of The Gurgling Angry Man. 4. Fucking, FORTY.

It’d sound the balls if you were jamming but who wants to listen to a professionally recorded jam? Isn’t that the remit of pretentious aging rockers? (It is.)

“A Monument To Failure Starts” with the same riff as Black Sabbath’s “Under The Sun”, and just HAS to be a dig at Black Sabbath. You know what Black Sabbath had, Assuck? FUCKING SONGS!

Seeing as it’s so short, I moved on to Misery Index straight after, which is from late in Burns’ producing career where what the ‘Scott Burns Sound’ was was less clearly defined. Another opening minute of nonsense and I wonder how this band was able to keep making music like this for five years and not just get…bored. The songs are a little more sensible and there’re a few more cool moments (for those not keeping track, that’s a few more than zero).  I begin nodding my head as a coping mechanism. There’s no other way to function. Honestly, I considered this and I mean it, but you could torture fuckers with this music. I mean, correctly applied, you could torture fuckers with any music, but with this you wouldn’t have to add too much to it. I think, unlike Anticapital and Blindspot (the EP I mentioned), you’d stand a better chance of ‘getting into’ this album.

It doesn’t change things, though. If you like Assuck, you hate your ears.

Hmm. Inauspicious start. Just to make up for it, the next time, I’ll be listenening to Sepultura’s Beneath The Remains. Hey, peaks and troughs, right?

See you around.