IF THIS ISN’T A DREAM 1985-89
SOUTHERN LORD RECORDS
Step up, children, and let poppa give you a history lesson.
For those who love themselves some Fu Manchu, for those who sit back with a spliff and lace the inside of their muscle car with the laid back stonerrock riffs of the legendary California band, may I present Virulence, the band that would form into the Fu. That’s right kids, before there was the big bad Fu Manchu there was the big bad and mean Virulence, a hardcore band that allows us to remember how great hardcore could be.
Kicking off in 1985 Virulence came together under the umbrella of their love for bands like Void, B’last and Black Flag. From there they kicked that California punk style into overdrive adding an element of experimentation to a lethal barrage of noisy punk songs. You have to remember this was when hardcore still mattered, before it became about basketball jerseys, tough guy bullshit and vapid attempts to reanimate a long dead scene. Virulence came out during an era when it was about the music, about rebellion and about a harsh middle finger to the status quo.
Though short lived (ending in 1989) Virulence etched out a solid reputation for themselves even releasing a full length record titled “If This Isn’t A Dream” on Alchemy Records. As it happened so often in those days Alchemy Records vanished, as did If This Isn’t A Dream.
Well pop the popcorn and scream hallelujah because Southern Lord Records has released a discography of the band titled If This Isn’t A Dream 1985-89 and the music kicks as much ass as it used to. This musical amalgamation includes the If This Isn’t A Dream LP as well as some slap out live tracks and demo work. Pretty much anything the band did is captured here.
You really only need to hear Virulence once to understand how good they really were. This is a band, much like Black Flag, that was more talented than the scene they were a part of. Take a song like “Worse Than Misery”, a slow moving instrumental that funnels it’s hardcore sensibilities through a filter of something akin to a hardcore Rush.
Virulence was tossing in long instrumentals; weird stops and off time begins long before it became the thing to do. Like Void, Black Flag, B’last, Negative Approach, and others Virulence were about creating something different, something weird and that’s what made it hardcore much more than something you could do the wacky mosh-dancing to.
Everything on this album is wonderful because it reminds me of a better time in hardcore, a better time in music altogether. Yeah I may gush about back in the day but fuck you that’s my right. Your hardcore sucks and that pisses me off, so when an album like this comes out I get all batty. Don’t get me wrong I’m not claiming old school, I got into hardcore in 1987 so I missed this era and that bums me out.
The live work on this album displays how good the band really was and it includes a Void cover, which kicks ass. Even the low-end demo stuff is solid. I don’t really think any of the new chug-chug punch-a-guy-and-dance-around hardcore bands will listen to this and take heed but they should. If This Isn’t A Dream 1985-89 is a testament to what can happen when great musicians strip everything down to it’s rawest form and then play from their hearts. Nobody does music like this anymore and that sucks.
CraveOnline’s Review: 10 Out Of 10
ENTER THE KILLING ZONE
METAL BLADE RECORDS
Germany’s Anima is a death metal band who have committed whole-heartedly to being a death metal band. This is a band that loves playing so fast they may alter the space-time continuum and do it while tuning and down and barking like a furious hell hound with demon fleas.
I tend to find Death Metal boring unless it’s a cacophony of sound that grabs a hold of the spine and shakes it until all the vertebrae are headbanging in unison. None of this pussy Death/Thrash crap for Anima, this is a precise German metal hammer striking down on your unsuspecting metal skull.
Building off that let us turn our attention to Anima’s newest album Enter The Killzone, a title that has as much subtlety to it as the music itself. Anima are issuing a clear challenge to cross some imaginary line and attempt to thwart their attempts to breed a death metal massacre while you watch.
The album starts with an intro featuring an epic classical theme with choir singing and then screams of terror. Anima are letting you know right up front what you’re getting into so there will be no whining later on when the music gets oppressive.
From that point on you get no holds barred death metal that manages to molest grindcore just enough to make it meaner. With album titles like “Cunt & Twist”, “I Am Sick I Want To Kill”, “Carnage Provoked” and my personal favorite “The Omnipotent Torture King” Anima are out to slice of heads and tear the skin from faces. Musically the riffs here are high speed and groovy in a death metal fuck you and die kind of way.
One of my favorite aspects of the album is that the guitars sound almost like a musical stream of consciousness. As if the players kept thinking of new riffs every few seconds and then tried to cram them into the songs as they came. It sounds like this wouldn’t work at all but Anma are too pissed off and thus somehow scare the riffs into working together.
I dig the drummer in Anima because he doesn’t just sit back, grab a smoke, and let his feet do all the work. Yes there are heaping amounts of double bass here but there’s also some other beats worked in as well as enough fills to make Dave Lombardo hang it up forever. The fills come in and out of the songs, some belonging, some not, some working; some seeming like overkill, but all of it keeps Enter The Killzone more interesting than most of the death metal that comes my way.
Vocally you get a lot of deep throated growling but then comes a high pitched scream that sounds like the singer is in the booth with pliers around his own balls squeezing them at random intervals. Whatever this guy is doing it gives the vocals a bit more oomph than usual. You still don’t know what he’s saying and for the most part you don’t care but it sounds wicked cool. Anima and “Enter The Killzone” are a nice shot in the arm for a genre that could really use it.
CraveOnline’s Rating: 7 ½ Out Of 10