Vim Fuego

Patrick Stott
Forum Admin Group · Death, T/S/G, Grind, VA Teams
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606 reviews/ratings
MORBID ANGEL - Altars of Madness Death Metal | review permalink
PUNGENT STENCH - Been Caught Buttering Death Metal | review permalink
CATHEDRAL - Forest of Equilibrium Doom Metal | review permalink
BRUTAL TRUTH - Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses Deathgrind | review permalink
ANNIHILATOR - Alice in Hell Thrash Metal | review permalink
DARK ANGEL - Darkness Descends Thrash Metal | review permalink
CARNIVORE - Retaliation Crossover Thrash | review permalink
EXODUS - Fabulous Disaster Thrash Metal | review permalink
HOLY TERROR - Mind Wars Thrash Metal | review permalink
CARCASS - Symphonies of Sickness Goregrind | review permalink
CARNIVORE - Carnivore Crossover Thrash | review permalink
DEICIDE - Deicide Death Metal | review permalink
DESTRUCTION - Sentence of Death Thrash Metal | review permalink
BAD NEWS - Bad News Heavy Metal | review permalink
EXHORDER - Slaughter in the Vatican Thrash Metal | review permalink
8 FOOT SATIVA - Season for Assault Thrash Metal | review permalink
TERRORIZER - World Downfall Deathgrind | review permalink
METALLICA - ...And Justice for All Thrash Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Live Shit: Binge & Purge Thrash Metal | review permalink
LAWNMOWER DETH - Ooh Crikey It's... Lawnmower Deth Crossover Thrash | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Thrash Metal 144 3.91
2 Death Metal 67 3.98
3 Heavy Metal 61 3.64
4 Grindcore 49 3.83
5 Crossover Thrash 22 3.93
6 Black Metal 21 3.21
7 Groove Metal 19 2.63
8 Hard Rock 17 2.74
9 Hardcore Punk 15 4.40
10 Glam Metal 14 3.46
11 Alternative Metal 13 2.62
12 Industrial Metal 11 3.41
13 Technical Death Metal 11 3.68
14 Goregrind 10 4.05
15 Non-Metal 9 2.39
16 Deathgrind 9 4.17
17 Power Metal 8 3.25
18 Progressive Metal 8 2.63
19 NWoBHM 7 3.14
20 Brutal Death Metal 6 3.33
21 Melodic Death Metal 6 2.83
22 Gothic Metal 5 3.30
23 Symphonic Metal 5 1.60
24 Sludge Metal 5 2.80
25 Speed Metal 4 3.38
26 Stoner Metal 4 2.75
27 Deathcore 4 2.88
28 Folk Metal 4 3.75
29 Death 'n' Roll 4 2.00
30 Cybergrind 3 4.67
31 Death-Doom Metal 3 2.83
32 Nu Metal 3 0.67
33 US Power Metal 3 3.33
34 Pornogrind 2 4.00
35 Symphonic Black Metal 2 4.50
36 Metal Related 2 5.00
37 Metalcore 2 3.25
38 Melodic Black Metal 2 1.25
39 Funk Metal 2 1.50
40 Heavy Alternative Rock 2 4.00
41 Doom Metal 2 4.75
42 Crust Punk 2 4.75
43 Atmospheric Black Metal 2 2.50
44 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2 4.75
45 Avant-garde Metal 2 4.00
46 Drone Metal 1 4.00
47 Depressive Black Metal 1 4.50
48 Heavy Psych 1 0.50
49 Proto-Metal 1 5.00
50 Rap Metal 1 2.50
51 Technical Thrash Metal 1 3.50
52 Traditional Doom Metal 1 3.50
53 Viking Metal 1 3.00

Latest Albums Reviews


Album · 1996 · Heavy Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Metallica’s self-titled 1991 album was a big surprise.

Also known as the “Black Album”, it surprised long-time fans in the radical change of musical direction the band took. The cover was a bit of a surprise in its Spinal Tap-like none-more-blackness. The choice of Bob Rock as producer was a big surprise, since Rock was better known for producing metal pretenders like Motley Crüe, not a contender like Metallica. And perhaps the biggest surprise of all was how the popularity of the album absolutely took off. It sold tens of millions of copies, made Metallica a household name, and made a huge impression on metal and rock the world over.

Following up such a monolithic album was always going to be a challenge, but this was a band which had always tackled challenges head on. They had been uncompromising as a young band, hiring and firing who they felt they needed to complete their all-conquering line-up. They soldiered on and recruited a new bass player after the tragic death of Cliff Burton. They didn’t bow to MTV pressure and achieved success on their own terms. And then they created a big, black-clad monster. What came next was anyone’s guess.

And nobody guessed.

Five years after the “Black Album”, “Load” hit the shelves, with a sticky looking cover, made of blood and jizz. Inside the bodily fluid covered cover, there was photographic evidence of haircuts, new wardrobes, and make-up. All this caused a stir even before the album landed. Yes, there had been a single released a few months earlier, the hard-driving “Until It Sleeps”, with its Heironymus Bosch-inspired music video, but it didn’t prepare fans for the massive image shift.

And then the biggest surprise? The music. Of course it was the music. It’s always meant to be about the music. And surprisingly enough, what “Load” served up was an even duller version of the “Black Album”.

There was no return to the thrash roots, as many long-time fans were still vainly hoping for. The heavy was dialed back – there’s nothing that approaches Sad But True’s Godzilla stomp. And there were a few more non-metal shades infecting the music. It sounded like more of the same, but less. And more. More in that this album is too long. It’s an absolute chore to sit through all 79 minutes of it. Towards the end of the album, you find yourself checking “Is it nearly done yet?” Ever done that with Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets? It seems the band had got too big, and too self-important, and just didn’t know when to fucking stop. And who was going to tell them to?

The album kicks off with “Ain’t My Bitch”, a slightly more up-tempo song than those on the “Metallica” album, but James’ singing seems to have lost its edge. Also, the gut churning bottom end which made up for some of the previous album’s loss of tempo is gone. “Ain’t My Bitch” just ain’t as heavy.

“2x4” swaggers and swings, and Kirk wails on the lead, but it’s ultimately pedestrian. It’s different to what Metallica had ever done before, but it is also unadventurous.

“The House That Jack Built” is more like it. The dark Lovecraftian Gothic shade hinted at by the “Until It Sleeps” single is back. It has some great melodies, it’s has the body-slamming heavy vibe, and there’s even vocal harmonies. There’s some creepy wah pedal effects, along with talk box guitar, popularised by Peter Frampton, and used by Mick Mars on “Kickstart My Heart” – could this be Bob Rock’s influence again?

“Until It Sleeps” is the first outstanding song on the album. It is nightmarish and creepy, heavy and compelling. It uses contrasting dynamics highly effectively, and isn’t ploddingly obvious like some of the other songs here. James Hetfield’s oblique esoteric lyrics are open to interpretation (hint: it's about cancer!), but this definitely isn’t a happy song!

“King Nothing” and “Hero of the Day” are slightly less dark, but both are hard driving, dynamic songs. “King Nothing” harks back to the “Black Album” again, with a big main riff, but with more going on around it, and like “Enter Sandman”, revisits childhood verse in an adult context. “Hero of the Day” mixes soft/loud/soft, light/heavy/light song structure, and builds to an almost thrash mid-section, punctuated by stuttering kick drums from Lars Ulrich. The song includes some of Kirk’s best lead guitar on the whole album, and one of Hetfield’s smoothest vocal performances ever. By the final fade, it feels like Metallica might have pulled it out of the fire, and delivered a good album after all.

Yeah, nah. Didn’t happen. It’s mostly downhill from here.

“Bleeding Me” is just long and boring. Yeah, there’s another big riff, there’s more solos and shit, but it’s all the same damn plodding tempo we’ve already heard.

“Cure” is pure filler that those kings of poorly padded albums KISS would be proud of. What’s the fucking point of this song? It’s a boring shit sandwich of a song, the lowest point on the whole album. It’s only slightly longer than “Fight Fire With Fire”, but feels like it’s never going to end.

“Poor Twisted Me” has a megaphone vocal effect, which is really the most interesting thing about it. Once again, mid-tempo and little purpose. “Wasting My Hate” starts with a bluesy riff and vocal, and threatens to take off, but just settles into that mid-tempo groove again. Every time it seems like it’s going to get good, it gets pulled back from the brink and ends up squarely in mediocre again.

If you make it through those four turgid lumps of over-produced yet half-baked stodge, you’re treated to a diamond in the not-rough-enough. “Mama Said” is a country-tinged ballad. Though they built their reputation on hard charging thrash, Metallica have always been amazing balladeers, because they always avoided the clichés the 80s hair metal bands built their hits around. Metallica always understood when to stomp on the overdrive. The song is fleshed out with multi-tracked vocal harmonies, a string section, and steel guitar. “Mama Said” is heart-felt and emotionally powerful, written about Hetfield’s mother, who died of cancer when he was only 16.

“Thorn Within” once again promises much, and delivers little. There’s simply no risk taken. It drives straight down the middle of the road Metallica have been building for much of this album. “Ronnie” is painful country/blues infused mid-paced metal. Yep, mid-paced. Again. It’s like the whole album is stuck with the handbrake on.

Don’t expect any mercy just because you have reached the end of the album “Outlaw Torn” creeps promisingly, like a bulldozer track, slowly crawling and crushing all beneath it. And finally, what we’d all been waiting years for but heard only sporadically – Jason Newsted prominent in the mix! His subtle but supple bass weaves through the main theme of the song. With all the ostentatious egos and undoubted talent of other band members here, it’s easy to forget what a maestro Metallica had in their bottom end, but here is one of their greatest resources wasted on a meandering fade out to nothing. This song clocks in at nearly 10 minutes long, but apparently is missing the best part of the song cut off the end, because they ran out of space on a CD. You should have dumped one of the other songs, you stupid bastards!

“Load” is what Metallica felt like they had to record. It’s safe and unchallenging. After all, what do you have left to do once you’ve conquered the metal and musical world? You cement your base by delivering more of the same, without alienating or scaring your massive fan base. There IS a good album in here. It’s just it’s buried under an avalanche of pointless detritus.

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Speed Kills - The Very Best In Speed Metal

Album · 1985 · Thrash Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
No compilation is quite definitive of a genre.

Think about it. One of the most famous compilations in all of metal is the 1980 album “Metal For Muthas”. This album exemplified the essence and feel of the NWOBHM, a scene which combined an invigorating new take on metal combined with the DIY ethos of the punk scene. It was a great starting place for the scene, but definitive? The NW in the acronym stands for new wave. Nutz had been releasing albums for six years. The stands for British. E.F. Bands was Swedish. And the HM is, of course, heavy metal. Toad The Wet Sprocket and the aforementioned Nutz let the team down here. There was some excellent stuff on this album, like Iron Maiden, Praying Mantis, Samson, and Angelwitch, but Geoff Barton, he who coined the tongue twisting NWOBHM acronym, rated this album a lowly two out of five. He called the album an embarrassment, and “metal for masochists”, because it basically missed the point of the NWOBHM. Perhaps “Metal For Muthas” was too ambitious, or the whole scene too wide and amorphous to be covered by an album or two (the second inferior volume followed later the same year). Think of the names missing here – Def Leppard, Saxon, even Diamond Head.

However, compilations were a hugely important promotional tool for underground music scenes. Many punk scenes the world over did a great job of getting their sounds out there through the art of the compilation. There would be unexpected hits and inexplicable misses, but compilations were often the best way to get music to a wider audience when there was zero chance of radio play or mainstream media coverage.

As the NWOBHM faded, the winners departed on world tours, the losers went back to their day jobs, and another embryonic scene started to bud and blossom. It was more international than the NWOBHM, but was still a bottom-up groundswell, and borrowed a bit of the punk sound as well as the ethos. That was the speed metal movement, or as we know it in hindsight now, thrash metal. The first compilation to include this new style of music was volume 1 of Metal Blade’s long-running “Metal Massacre” series, released in 1982 and featuring a band called “Mettallica”. Yeah, Metal Blade’s forte was metal, not spelling.

By 1985, this scene was really starting to come into it’s own, and a handful of independent labels were starting to grow some impressive rosters. Through cross promotion and co-operation, British label Music For Nations managed to secure tracks from some of the more important independent metal labels and almost put together a genre defining compilation. Almost...

If you run through the roster of bands here, you find Venom, who along with Motörhead were really the grandads of thrash metal. You get three of the not-yet-labelled Big Four (it seems that label arose in 1986). There’s Celtic Frost and Possessed, without whom doom, death, and black metal would be very different beasts to what we know now. You get Exodus, who were a bit late out of the starting gate. There’s a track from Canadian space cowboys Voivod, before they went full cyberprog. The most obvious gap here is the German one. Yes, there’s Destruction at the top of their bestial game, but the rest of the German biggies are missing – no Kreator, no Sodom, no Helloween (Helloween belonged in that company in those days, and Tankard was still a year off releasing their debut album). So not a perfect definitive roster, but pretty fucking impressive in it’s own right. So what’s actually here?

First track “Metal Merchants” by Hallows Eve is probably the easiest to digest stepping stone for a traditional metal fan stumbling across this album. It’s a perfect cross between NWOBHM melody and the new-fangled speed metal tempo. The noodling riff and militaristic snare of the introduction (actually a separate track called “Valley of the Dolls”, but run together here as one song) pulls the listener in before the smack in the face of the main song bursts into full on thrash riffing overlaid with NWOBHM leads.

Hallows Eve really doesn’t prepare the listener for the next track. Exodus’ “A Lesson In Violence” is just what it says. This song is violent as fuck. Paul Baloff’s vocals are vicious and full of hate for the uneducated. There are a lot of ifs, buts, and maybes which have dogged Exodus’ career. Forget them and soak up the metallic fury here instead.

Destruction’s “Bestial Invasion” is a good choice here as it is a lot darker than the catchier “Mad Butcher”. There was an element of Venom worship in some of Destruction’s early material, but Schmier’s vocal style is quite different to Cronos, and this is far more technical than what Venom was famous for, and showed a band which had carved out it’s own evil little niche.

Bulldozer is the least known band here, having formed in 1980. If even recognised at all, these Italian thrashers are often remembered as second rate, but “Insurrection of the Living Damned” is the blackest song here (yes, even more so than Venom), and their evil sounds have attained a strong cult following in the black metal underground. Alberto Contini’s gruff vocals are particularly impressive, and this track showed a band confident enough not to have to play flat out all the time.

Metallica sounds streets ahead of everyone else here. “Fight Fire With Fire” is professional and clear sounding, and fast as fuck, sharp, and vital. If you don’t know this song, you probably shouldn’t be reading this review, so no use in describing it. Where did this band go? And how the hell do you follow the most intense song of Metallica’s career? Well, with Slayer, quite obviously. While it’s not stated here, and hasn’t ever really fully been clarified, this sounds like the in-studio-live version of “Evil Has No Boundaries” from the “Live Undead” EP. It’s barely controlled chaos. The lyrics and image are cheesy, but it’s executed so convincingly that listeners forgot to laugh at them. A young Tom Araya sounds particularly gleeful here.

Possessed kick off side 2 (This was 1985. CDs were ridiculously expensive to produce, and most metal labels couldn’t afford to press them, so you had vinyl or cassette) with “Pentagram”. It is Satanic and evil sounding enough to have caused a Christian panic, complete with backmasking and and an evil sounding riff.

Exciter was right there when it started, one of the first handful of thrash metal bands to release an album, not far behind Metallica and Slayer. Yet “Riders From Darkness” is the weakest track on this entire album. It’s earnest but silly speed metal, and really demonstrates why Exciter are a footnote in metal history and not remembered as a major player.

The version of “Black Metal” included here is not the same as the one from Venom’s classic second album of the same name. The production has been tightened and sharpened, which removes the blackened rough charm of the original. Fear not though, this makes up in power what it lacks in raw energy, and isn’t a disappointment.

Speaking of raw, Voivod’s “War and Pain” is bleeding edge, with lacerating guitars, weird, crashing riffs, and nasty, incomprehensible vocals. Voivod has never been an easy or comforting band to listen to, and fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

You can’t keep a good Dave down, and Megadeth’s “Rattlehead” is a storming track. Technical, sharp, and fast, nevertheless it’s not as heavy as Metallica. And this is the last time you’d see the two bands on the same bill for 25 years. Never mind, listening to Dave Mustaine trying to out-do his former bandmates is always a pleasure.

“Into The Crypts of Rays” is a bit faster than most Celtic Frost songs, but this is a speed metal compilation after all. The song perfectly displays the proto-death metal riffing and Tom G. Warrior’s signature death grunt, and is a strong finish to a classy collection.

The best thing a compilation can do is to whet the listener’s appetite to explore further. “Speed Kills” teases and titillates like a lingerie ad on a bus stop. You want more? Go get it. Just keep your state of arousal under control in public.

POSSESSED Revelations of Oblivion

Album · 2019 · Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
When Possessed went through their various bust ups, there was a feeling among fans that the band’s true potential was never fully realised.

Through the legendary “Death Metal” demo, the influential “Seven Churches” album (NOT the first death metal album. No, it just fucking wasn’t, even if this site says it is!), the slightly more polished “Beyond The Gates” (which has one of the stupidest album covers ever), and the mellower “Eyes of Horror” mini album, Possessed had created a small, powerful, but occasionally patchy catalogue of evil, high energy thrash.

The band first split in 1987, not long after the release of “The Eyes of Horror”, with a variety of fates befalling the various band members. Guitarist Larry LaLonde joined fellow San Fran thrashers Blind Illusion, and then to rock weirdos Primus. Guitarist Mike Torrao continued with the Possessed name, but the band’s reputation had declined to the point where they suffered the indignity of playing support to an up-and-coming unsigned band by the name of Machine Head. Bass player/vocalist Jeff Becerra was shot in 1989 during a robbery, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Swept away in the great metal purge of the early 1990s, it seemed this legendary band had died young and left a beautifully ugly corpse.

But then an unusual thing happened. Possessed came back from the dead. “Revelations of Oblivion” is the result. The wheelchair-bound Becerra decided that 32 years was long enough for the world to be without a new Possessed album, so put together a band, wrote some songs, and recorded this little beauty. It all looks so easy when written like that...

When the creation of this album was first announced, the naysayers were quick to jump in with opinions on how bad it would be. After all, there’s only one original member left in the band, often not a great recipe for success. However, the most important element is the one that’s left – Becerra’s distinct shout/scream vocals. Have you ever tried singing sitting down? No, not just at a birthday party or in church (eek!), but really SINGING. Ever notice that professional singers always stand? Look at opera singers, choirs, and pretty much any band or performer you ever see. Singers stand. Why? Because that’s where the power comes from. Volume and breath control comes from being able to stand and move freely. See where this is going? Jeff Becerra is confined to a wheelchair. Listen to his vocals. The difference between 2019 and 1987 is negligible. Yeah, studios, recording methods, technology and all that shit have advanced immeasurably in those three decades, but you can’t work wizardry unless you have the right noises to work with in the first place. Becerra still sounds angry, evil, and most importantly, powerful. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of what he has achieved here.

And the naysayers can fuck off. “Revelations of Oblivion” finally realises the full potential of what Possessed always threatened. No, this won’t have the impact or influence that the band’s earlier work did, mainly because there’s a shit-ton more top quality extreme metal in the late 2010s than there was in the late 1980s. Extremity has sprouted in numerous black, dead, grinding, and technical directions since that time, and any single release now will have a more specific audience than back in Possessed’s initial run. However, if old school thrash which dabbles in cartoonish Satanic themes is your thing, then you won’t top this.

“Chant of Oblivion” is ye olde traditional spooky intro track. Tolling bells fading in with spooky horror movie orchestration and chants. So far, so clichéd, so fucking good!

And then the album bursts straight into the speedy evil “No More Room In Hell”. The first and most obvious thing is that while the sound is sharp and clear, it’s distinctively Possessed. No one else wrote or played wrist snapping riffs like that. Spiky, sharp guitar riffs, courtesy of Daniel Gonzalez and Claudeous Creamer, fly off each other. And that’s the great thing here. There’s nothing these two do which would have been out of place if done by LaLonde and Torrao. It’s Possessed, done in the style of Possessed.

Drums were always the weak link in the original Possessed line-up. Mike Sus was enthusiastic, but never very technically proficient, and couldn’t quite keep up with the rest of the band. No longer. Well, Sus is no longer in the band anyway, having gone on to become a psychologist, but drummer Emilio Marquez doesn’t miss a beat, which is a dreadfully clichéd way to describe a drummer, but this guy is faultless and powerful, and clichés become clichés because they fit.

Drums and guitars aside though, this is really the Jeff Becerra show. “Damned” has a great vocal melody, with rapid fire rhyming couplets, which gives it a weird evil Dr Seuss feel, but it’s near flawless. “Shadowcult” features a wicked chant. “The Word” blasts in with a great opening riff, but as soon as Becerra’s rasp hits, it’s obvious the guitars are only there as a vehicle for this voice.

In 2006, Celtic Frost surprised the metal world with “Monotheist”, easily their strongest album, a decade and a half past their supposed prime. Strongest, yes. Most influential, no. It was never going to be since times had changed. The same thing has happened here with Possessed. “Revelations of Oblivion” is stronger and more consistent than anything Possessed created in the 1980s, but despite finally realising the band’s full potential. it’s not going to have the impact of the previous albums. Unlike Celtic Frost though, let’s hope Possessed don’t call it a day after this.

PISSGRAVE Posthumous Humiliation

Album · 2019 · Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Having lived and worked on farms most of my life I think I’m a pretty good judge of the gory and gruesome.

I have picked swarms of maggots from the putrefying flesh of living animals. I have been splattered in grey matter (yep, calf brains) and guts, bathed in piss, and showered in shit. I have removed rotted placenta and foetal material from the birth canal of a half-ton beast. I have cleaned up two inch deep jellied blood from euthanised sheep. I have killed animals with blunt force and firearms alike (clarification: never, ever for fun - always from necessity). I now work as a medical writer, dealing with pictures of gonorrhoeic genitalia, ulcerated eyes, suppurating sores, and scathing skin rashes. Blood, pus, viscera, excreta, it’s all part of life. Someone has to deal with it, and quite often that someone has been me.

Pissgrave have achieved something with the cover of their second album “Posthumous Humiliation”. They caused me to look away in disgust. Yep, the cover of this album is utterly revolting. Well done!

Why “well done”? Because it’s hard to get a reaction of disgust out of me, without resorting to inhuman and inhumane cruelty (I don’t go looking for torture and murder for fun). While the victim of the illustration here is obviously dead, it looks like the result of a violent accident rather than a willful act of violent depravity. Cannibal Corpse left the imagery of a hammer smashed face to the listener’s own imagination. Pissgrave brought that image to life... er, death.

And after a cover like that, you’d probably expect a vile mishmash of formless near noise, right? Not this time.

Pissgrave’s thing is some pretty fucking solid death metal, accented with guttural beyond goregrind vocals. This differs from your usual loose labial grinding gore mess in that it’s tighter than a gerontonecrophiliac’s nutsack at the site of a plane crash full of senior citizens. The music is structured, and the riffs are actually pretty fucking good. If you’ve ever thought “I wonder what Autopsy would sound like if they had been a bit faster and tighter”, then here’s your answer. Of course, part of Autopsy’s charm is the way the band always skirted the edge of total disaster, but still...

Pissgrave’s riffs are tight and focused. This is proper death metal, and while not up to the quality of something like Cannibal Corpse or Morbid Angel (what is?), it’s streets ahead of the heavy-for-heavy’s sake deathcore/slam multitudes. There are solos in the frantic Rick Rozz style of old school Death and Massacre, strings squealing on the verge of snapping. The drums aren’t mindless blasting or a robotic mechanical rattle. Don’t worry – there’s more than enough blast beats and double kick drums to go round, but there’s enough space left in the mix for contrast and definition.

The vocals are the big point of difference. The pitch-shifted guttural growl is amped and fuzzed within an inch of white noise oblivion, almost completely blown out. A lot of grind bands do this by accident with a mushy, muffled sound. In this case, it’s voice as instrument, like John Tardy’s early Obituary efforts, except a shitload faster, and more mangled and manipulated.

Pissgrave are really at their best when they hit a high speed groove, like in second track “Canticle of Ripping Flesh”. The music is frenetic and chaotic, but from it a sub-melody emerges. It’s the kind of groove death metal pioneers hit, and new school tech-deathsters miss. That’s why a lot of people still love the old shit and get left cold by a lot of the new stuff. It brings death metal to life. And despite the dead bad luck of the unfortunate cover model, this is an album full of life. True, the “life” is probably gangrenous, highly infectious, and purulent, but this is an album which is much smarter than it may appear at first glance. If you’re brave enough to take a second glance, Pissgrave have distilled the essence of old school death metal and spiced it up with some new school flavours.

Just don’t look at the album cover while trying to eat...

YACØPSÆ Sanitys Dawn / Yacøpsæ

Split · 2003 · Grindcore
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
17 March 2019. Today was supposed to be a happy day. Today I was supposed to see two of my favourite bands, of which I have been a fan for 30 years. Unbelievable as it may have seemed in 1989, Slayer and Anthrax were coming to Christchurch, my nearest city! The city where I work. The city where I was educated. The city where I have lived so much of my life.

It is also St. Patrick’s Day. Even though Patrick is my real name and I’m far from a saint, it’s not a day for celebration. Today is not a day for happiness.

Slayer and Anthrax are not coming. I am not going to a concert. I am not going to hear some of my favourite songs performed live. I am not going to feel that incredible, uplifting experience of an insane mosh pit with hundreds of like-minded people. This is not the reason for the lack of happiness. It would be selfish and trivial to express anger or sadness just because of a cancelled concert.

Two days ago, on 15 March 2019, an unspeakable act of mindless terrorism ripped my city apart. A hate-filled thug took it upon himself to try to start a war, either religious or racial, but completely pointless. He murdered 50 people peacefully at prayer.

50 of our people.

50 people with families, friends, workmates.

50 people with hopes, aspirations, dreams.

50 people.

50 lives.


This is still unfathomable. Unbelievable. How could it happen here? This is a city which has endured earthquakes in the past. How much more does a city need to suffer? Many of those murdered were refugees, escaping war or religious intolerance in their own shattered homes – Somalia, Fiji, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kuwait. These people had resettled here, supposedly because New Zealand is a peaceful country, free from religious persecution and violence.

No longer.

A cowardly white supremacist piece of shit deliberately targeted Christchurch’s peaceful, valued Muslim community. He murdered people at prayer in their mosques, simply because of their religion and the colour of their skin. He murdered helpless, defenceless people. Women. Children. Elderly. I know. I have seen this atrocity. This animal filmed himself shooting defenceless people. No one should see members of their community murdered, but I watched this video because there should be those who bear witness to this crime so it will not be forgotten. It is the most disgusting, disturbing thing I have ever seen. It won’t be forgotten, because I won’t forget.

At a time of despair like this, it’s hard to know what to do and how to cope with it. I am lucky, because I have a loving family around me. But still, how do you cope with your own thoughts? I have taken out some of the feelings of helplessness and frustration through physical activity – a chainsaw is a great physical outlet. But still, sometimes you just need to see something positive or cheerful, just to try to lift your spirits. Sitting at my computer I can see some things I like, which help. There are posters on my wall – Iron Maiden, Metallica, Ronnie James Dio, Stallone and Snipes in Demolition Man. There are two plastic dinosaurs on my desk, a reminder of my brother’s wedding three weeks ago. And there are CDs I have left lying on my desk, some of my favourite things. There’s Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt”, a cheap old Jasper Carrott album, Lou Reed and Metallica’s “LuLu” (I don’t care what anyone else thinks, it’s a comfort to me) a seven disc set of The 12th Man, a Slap-A-Ham compilation called “Fiesta Comes Alive”, “Van Halen I”, “Pure…metal” (which is pure shit!), and the one which really cheered me – “Yacøpsæ/Sanitys Dawn”.

So why did this help? Simple. The Yacøpsæ cover. It has a picture of a small child and a baby chimpanzee holding hands. It’s a symbol of unity and friendship. It’s what split records are all about. Different but the same, and together make a single entity. (Admittedly, the Sanitys Dawn cover on the other side has a picture of a policeman being kicked in the head, but I don’t have to look at that.)

And the music is a cheering thing too. Sanitys Dawn kick the album off with their raucous crust/grind sound. This is simple, angry aggressive music. And despite some English song titles, it’s mostly in German, so I have no fucking clue what’s going on! No matter. Guitarist Matthias has a great line in simple, huge sounding riffs. Vocalist Topsy has a bleeding throat screech type of vocal style. Even when he’s screeching in English, he’s incomprehensible. Bassist Prandy contributes vocals on some tracks too, like a rough edged oi punk. Don’t worry – you can’t understand him either!

There is a lyric sheet, which helps well… very little. It looks as if the English language songs have been translated to German, with little knowledge of English. The song “How To Live” has lines like “Sent to jail, you’re non-conform/Fuck the sense of life/Manmade situations/Guilty for this shit you see”. Incomprehensible, angry, and incredibly powerful.

“Act Like Me Or Die” is rabidly anti-American foreign policy. “Call The Garbage Collection” is against manufactured pop music. No “Fed Up” it seems the band are fed up with people who talk shit, like the Pope and hippies.

After 11 tracks of Sanitys Dawn’s noise and chaos, you come to Yacøpsæ, which is, unbelievably, noisier and more chaotic. This incredibly powerful three piece unit look like mild-mannered accountants or computer programmers, but produce some of the most violent noise on the planet.

Stoffel’s guitars seem to rip holes in the space/time continuum, crushing but clear. His vocals are a constant shriek, with little variation, but why change something when it works that well?

Yacøpsæ don’t even bother to try to translate their lyrics. The band are not fluent in English, and have stated very plainly that subtleties of meaning are often lost in translation. You want to know what they are saying? Learn German.

Frank has an incredibly dirty bass sound, which would make Shane Embury envious. Emu’s drums are like a high speed, turbo charged combine harvester. The band’s sound is so massive it’s hard to imagine there are only three of them.

The songs are blast after blast of barely controlled chaos, purportedly covering a number socially aware topics (I don’t know specifically, but it looks like it!), and not a single track even reaches a minute and a half.

This little split is 23 tracks, all over in 31 minutes. It is wonderful, rowdy, positive violence as music. It smashes through your brain and drives out all else.

Then it ends. Cold reality comes back.

So fuck you, you worthless murdering racist piece of shit. You aren’t going to break those of us who are left. We will remember those you took.

And thank you Sanitys Dawn and Yacøpsæ for a small distraction at a time when I needed some comfort.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

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