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Kissing Cuzzins – We’ll Burn That Bridge When We Come To It (2008)

junkheadv1tmbKissing Cuzzins – We’ll Burn That Bridge When We Come To It

2008 was a long time ago, and unfortunately for Kissing Cuzzins, hip hop beats has a short expiration date.

While definitely a product of it’s time, listening to the backing now makes it feel lazy and uncreative. The first couple tracks take a pastiche approach where tons of styles are cut and pasted, but this is only true sometimes. The parts that cook like the IDM-influenced close to “I’m Like The Following” are too short, and too much time is spent on hooks and simple beats that never really dig into the listener. The worst is “God Mode”, which repeats it’s flaccid chorus (You think you’re in God mode/You think you’re in God mode/You think you’re in God mode/IDDQD) so many times to a repetitive drum and bass blurp that they must have really thought it was clever. By the end, your eyes will roll into the back of your head as “Secret Track” manages to steal the drum beat from both JJ Fadd’s “Super Sonic” and 2 Live Crew’s “Me So Horny” without adding in any cool bassline to back it up.

Stale beats aside, the boys lyrics and style are really fun, and the overall tone of the album is light and cool. Whether they’re putting “the dick back in diction” or “dropping audible bombs like your grandmother’s cooter“, it’s impossible to not have fun listening to these guys. While most of the rhymes are snotty wit, there’s a strong self-loathing charm to some of the lyrics: “Demeaning job, car on loan/24 years old and still living at home” accurately summarizes post-adolescence in a recession-ridden 2008 wasteland.

Still, I think it’s cooler to rhyme Tardis with retarded, and that’s about 80% of the album. My personal favorite line: “I’m just Hudson and Hawking for the diamond motherfucker”.

Music: C-
Rapping: A-
Overall: B-

Listen to the album herehttps://splattercatrecords.bandcamp.com/album/kissing-cuzzins-well-burn-that-bridge-when-we-come-to-it

Satan/Cauldron – Small’s 10/27/16

Satan/Cauldron – Small’s 10/27/16

tinyayholev1a Do you really think we can do it in an hour?
tinyjunkheadv1a A half hour. And yeah.
tinyayholev1a That’s what I typed. But it didn’t come out
tinyjunkheadv1a So are you okay to?
tinyayholev1a Okay.
tinyjunkheadv1a Alright. You can start it. Just talk about how you convinced me to go.
tinyayholev1a The day before the concert, Junkhead and I and our significants were sitting somewhere when someone asked if we were going to the concert. I said, “J doesn’t want to go because he’s going to be tired tomorrow.” But after I repeated that it was only $16 bucks and C and M could hang together, Junkhead became suddenly excited.
tinyjunkheadv1a C said she’d pay for my ticket, so the prospect got infinitely more exciting. Honestly, the events leading to the show also turned me off: Ay-hole was really excited to show up early, but we were locked out because the bands were sound-checking.
And it was cold.
tinyayholev1a Every time I am late to a concert, the opening band ends up going on early and being the band I actually wanted to see. This time my luck worked against us and Junkhead was stuck in whine mode for at least an hour.
tinyjunkheadv1a We were the only people near the stage area for about that amount of time, so I whined my ass off. The first band didn’t help brighten the mood either, with Coven 13 blowing all over the place.
tinyayholev1a Coven 13 started at 8:47 with their one song that featured a face melting solo, only the guitarist broke his string at the beginning of it.I was anticipating “Thor’s Twins” being the most exciting song, however, I was disappointed.
tinyjunkheadv1a That opening song sucked. The second one, “Ruler”, was really cool, but Andy hated it. “RULER/RULER/OF THE WASTELAND/RULER/RULER”.
tinyayholev1a I can’t put my finger on it, but it felt lazy. I liked the third song, which is unpronoucable but sounded like a Castlevania song. Then every song sucked. The whole band was lazy.
tinyjunkheadv1a The singer in particular looked like he was bored of the audience, really.
tinyayholev1a I’d give Coven 13 a 2/5, because I would probably avoid them at a show. Maybe they were just mad they weren’t going to be at Covenfest the next day. I’d be pretty sour about that, too.
tinyjunkheadv1a Ay-hole was really into the idea that Coven was playing another show called Covenfest the next day, but they’re wholly unrelated. The next band, Destructor, was crazy. The sound guy had to tell the vocalist/rhythm guitarist three times that he had to turn his amp down.
tinyayholev1a From the second they began to play, I was unable to take any pictures because I could not stop headbanging and air guitaring. The lead guitarist, a guy they we met before we went in, had to jump in the car and speed back to Cleveland so he could be at work at 5:30 the next morning, so he made sure to wake us all up with his through the roof energy.
tinyjunkheadv1a He was really good at shredding. Definitely the best guitarist in the building that night.
tinyayholev1a One could tell simply by the set list that Destructor is a good show. Too bad their album sucks. It might win worst recorded/best writing category for 2016.
tinyjunkheadv1a They played a whirlwind thrash set, three songs in a row with no stops followed by another three songs in a row. The first set was definitely better, with breakneck speeds and nothing else. After a little banter, they played some shitty power metal song that was saved by speed and shreds. I’d give them a B+.
tinyayholev1a What are you going to give Coven 13?
tinyjunkheadv1a D. As an educator by trade, I have a lot of faith in the letter grade system.
tinyayholev1a I’ll give Destructor a 4/5. I’ll have to get into their music more. Maybe next time their in town I’ll have a shirt and be part of the fan club or something.
tinyjunkheadv1a Like you said, their 2016 album sucked. Just a victim of terrible production. Strictly a live thing for me. Cauldron’s studio album, however, was something Ay-hole had to grab on vinyl.
tinyayholev1a Well, the reason we went to this show, anyway, was so we could see Cauldron. I missed them when they were at the Tolken Lounge. First impression, the bass player/singer, Decay, seemed tired and indifferent.
tinyjunkheadv1a For real. The whole performance lacked enthusiasm, like he was sick or tired. Fans were excited for older tracks, but we were excited about newer ones.
tinyayholev1a They did play “Empress” and “Burning at Both Ends,” which were pretty good and we were super hyped about that, but “No Return” sounded toilsome.
tinyjunkheadv1a There was a lot of toil for sure. “Miss You To Death” was the standout for me, although it’s the only thing in their repertoire that sounds like a straight AC/DC song.
tinyayholev1a To be fair, my neck hurt after Destructor and “Burning at Both Ends,” and their was that annoying fat mosher in a Judas Priest shirt that was inches close to loosing vision in his eye due to my elbow, so I could have just been preocupied. But the later thrashy songs really held the attention of the crowd well.
tinyjunkheadv1a The skullet guitar dude was really cool after the show. We took the picture above with them, and then I started talking about his Angel Witch shirt. He was surprised I didn’t like the first album and liked the mid-80s ones, but seemed especially confused when I started talking about how cool Praying Mantis was.
tinyayholev1a I complimented Decay’s Chain Reaction shirt, then Junkhead says to the guitarist, Chains, “You got a cool shirt, too. That album sucks.” And they became besties.
tinyjunkheadv1a Readers will always get stories in reverse when Blah Blah Music comes to town. So we went back to the stage area and started questioning whether we cared about the headliner, Satan.
tinyayholev1a They took forever to set up. It seemed like there was more groupies helping than all the members of the bands history, which is saying something because I believe only the lead singer was remaining from the original line up.
tinyjunkheadv1a I mean, everyone was old except the lead guitarist, so I dunno. Evidently both guitarists were original members.
tinyayholev1a I am corrected. I thought the lead guitarist was a lady. I’m still not sure. Interestingly enough, Satan was the oldest act on the stage that night, and Cauldron the youngest.
tinyjunkheadv1a Every band started in the ’80s except Cauldron. Coven 13 is the only band that had all of it’s original members. We’re avoiding talking about Satan’s music because they sucked so we left.
tinyayholev1a It was terrible. I was hoping it was going to either get worse or better and it did indeed get worse. One song was some high pitch droning and low ostinato fart bass for minutes on end. It was like a Sun O record skipping.

I think we always make sucky things sound better when we describe how we really feel about them.

tinyjunkheadv1a Yeah, that’s an insult to a Sunn O record skipping dude. So Andy dropped his rubiks cube so we had to go back and find a piece of it, then we bought groceries. Then we went back to my house and drank for like an hour and talked about all of the things we said in the review.
tinyayholev1a My two memorable moments: Junkhead complaining for an hour non stop even during the show because he was cold, and Junkhead getting the cold shoulder from a girl with green hair because her boyfriend started poking her for attention.
tinyjunkheadv1a I was bored of whining at Andy so I tried to talk to someone else, but she thought I was a creeper even though I was just talking about my girlfriend’s hair most of the time. My favorite moment was talking about music with the guitarist from Cauldron and whining at Andy for an hour because I was cold.
tinyayholev1a The whole night I give a 5/5, cause I would do it again in a heartbeat.
tinyjunkheadv1a Yeah, A+. Are we ever going to end this thing?
tinyayholev1a That’s it. I guess.



Coven 13: 2/5
Destructor: 4/5
Cauldron: 4/5 (because I still enjoyed their music to feel like I had a good time)
Satan: 1/5


Coven 13: D
Destructor: B+
Cauldron: B-
Satan: F

Apoptygma Berzerk – Exit Popularity Contest

junkheadv1tmbApoptygma Berzerk – Exit Popularity Contest

After selling out in a big way with their two alt/pop/rock albums from the late 2000s, Apoptygma Berzerk imploded. Currently sole member Stephan Groth disappeared, occasionally releasing vinyl EPs that no one in America will ever hear without dropping fifteen bucks on shipping. Exit Popularity Contest is the end result of these years of obscurity. Free from the tyrannical grasp of Sony Music GmbH and any sort of major mainstream aspirations, perhaps Stephan’s on the verge of a synth-laden classic?

About ten minutes in and you’ve uncovered the answer: Exit Popularity Contest is less the future of electronic music and more like old Kraftwerk. And by old, I mean they excavated this shit from King Tut’s tomb. All of the tracks are instrumental, with slow, chill melodies overlapping repetitive pulses. It’s so sparse and stripped back that there’s really not a lot to say.

So I won’t. This album’s boring and Stephan’s vocals are relegated to a “remix” thrown at the end of the album. To me, it just seems like a lazy way to score coke.


Hardline – Human Nature

junkheadv1tmbHardline – Human Nature

Has there ever been a pop/rock album so obsessed with the end of the world? The epic to the breaking point production coupled with loss-filled lyrics all create this sense that everything is crumbling down in a beautiful mess of roaring guitars and soaring vocals.

This enormous apocalyptic tone runs throughout the album. Lines like “Repent/Repent/You’ll never be forgiven/The world is falling down” and “Where are we going now/Where’s the future of mankind” have a bizarre, paranoid feel that just keeps compounding as the album continues. Any power ballad that says “Burn the sky of Earth/We thought the end was just a fear/A thought of this end never felt near” is for sure conjuring images of a world splintering into pieces.

Adding to this atmosphere are the gargantuan riffs, with over half the tracks recalling straightforward heavy metal over the big AOR-infused sound normally associated with Hardline. “Where Will We Go From Here”, “Where the North Wind Blows”, “The World is Falling Down, and “Running on Empty” are like monster trucks careening down the highway at 100 miles an hour, a distinct switch from the soccer mom coming-of-age SUV ballads tucked away on Danger Zone, the band’s last album.

As with that release, all around cool guy Alessandro Del Vecchio returns to produce and write the majority of songs, but he definitely is taking a new approach. Perhaps after writing and producing Ted Poley’s ultra upbeat solo album earlier this year (which I gave an A-), Vecchio decided to take more influence from the Book of Revelations this time around. It’s the kind of style lead singer Johnny Gioeli is accustomed to through the Axel Rudi Pell band, yet there’s still a very pronounced melodic rock flair that keeps everything positive, lifting you up while the walls are coming down.

There’s only one ballad at around the halfway point, a brief reprieve that goes for the traditional almost losing the one you love bit. The key word is almost: the verse’s are all sadness and loss, but the “Whoa-oa-oa-oa/Love is gonna take you home/To me” chorus is calling us all back from the destruction and raising us up with the gorgeously delicate piano chord arrangement.

That’s probably what makes the album so palatable, through music and lyrics so focused on the end but looking forward to a new rebirth. For every line of doom and gloom, there’s always a “Here we are, blood thick as stone/We have our dreams to chase that goal” ready to balance everything. That’s probably why the cover’s that silly Yin and Yang thing on fire: every generation always feels like we’re on the brink of death, but we all come out bruised, battered, but stronger than before. Actually, a lot of us just end up confused and in the mental hospital, but for generally sound people like Vecchio, Gioeli, and Junkhead Josh, I think the album’s message will ring true.


Assemblage 23 – Small’s 10/6/16


junkheadv1tmbAssemblage 23 – Small’s 10/6/16

Electronic acts are cool because dancing is encouraged, so even the biggest dipshit on the planet will start shaking their ass. Throughout this show, I was amazed at the variety of styles: the couple near the stage dry humped all night, the bald guys with VNV Nation shirts threw their limbs around wildly, and the woman in front of me danced like a soccer mom. In the closing minutes of the show, one woman came up wagging her hips and wiggling her right hand like some sort of wild hundred-years-too-late flapper chick.

The actual acts weren’t always as entertaining, specifically the opener Ghost Synthesis. A DJ who’s beyond all over the place, it’s a grotesque amalgamation of EBM, dubstep, and pop music that made me want to hurl. There’d be a cool gothic/industrial section for a couple minutes, but it would almost always be followed by synth pop with pre-recorded vocals playing. I don’t think anyone danced at all except for this side-shaved chick up front. He tried to actually play synths at different points, but in true DJ style, most of his time was spent checking his Twitter feed on the laptop.

Voicecoil was infinitely better. The front man donned sunglasses and a suit, looking like some sort of synth-pop superstar. This is the only band that actually had a guitarist, but the girl at the laptop was much louder. Still, the music was perfect for the crowd: a sugary take on the futurepop mold, with all the block-rocking aspects of synthpop in the red throughout. Somehow, the band and audience both lost a lot of energy in the last couple of songs, but I was still impressed.

After a short reprieve, Assemblage 23 took the stage. Aside from sole member Tom Shear, the touring act included a middle aged guy at a laptop/synth setup and a younger drummer who smiled the entire show. These two stepped out first, playing an instrumental track to warm up the crowd. Shear took the stage like a bat out of hell, grabbing the microphone and kicking into the second track, “After”. After this, the band played some old favorites, with everyone dancing or Snapchatting their heads off.

From the concert alone, one can view Assemblage 23 as sort of an EBM version of Depeche Mode: like Depeche Mode, the melodies and atmosphere take precedence over all else, and they do a great job balancing slower tracks and faster uptempo boombox breakers. Just when the crowd would get tired from pounding their heads or shaking their butts, the band put on a slower sway type song, giving everyone a minute to take a breath.

This was pretty important considering that the band went on for almost TWO HOURS! They literally played twenty songs, the majority of them being upbeat rockers. Two encores were played, although Shear blurted that he didn’t feel like getting off stage so everyone should just yell really loud so they can just play some more. The first encore got everyone’s blood pumping, but the second was literally putting me to sleep. I swayed and closed my eyes and thought I was going to pass out. A lot of people left at this point.

After all the smoke cleared, I was pretty happy with my experience. I hope when I’m 44 that I can rock out for two hours straight.

Ghost Synthesis: F

Voicecoil: B

Assemblage 23: B+

Crimson Bridge Ministry – Never Letting Go

junkheadv1tmbCrimson Bridge Ministry – Never Letting Go

I’m covering this new single before Ay-Hole can. He turned me onto the Crimson Bridge Ministry last year, demanding we do a split review of what he deemed an instant melodic rock classic.

That’s probably putting words in his mouth, but it certainly doesn’t seem like a huge exaggeration: Remnant Rock threaded delicious classic rock riffs with poignant Christian lyrics. My personal favorite was “Trashman”, a biting yet uplifting track that reminds people to not always seek refuge in Earthly things, but to turn to God in times of need. Regardless of your personal beliefs, it’s impassioned and very down to earth, a tone that resonates throughout Crimson Bridge Ministry’s entire first album.

I was stoked about twenty minutes ago when I saw the new single was out. I headed directly to the website and was not disappointed. The opening riff is played out almost like AC/DC, letting full chords ring out into jagged electric punches. The drums quickly kick in and Norm Campbell’s soaring vocals come in. A thank you letter to God for saving us from sin, it’s a slab of hard rock that keeps the guitars loud and the melodies soaring. The vocal melodies following the riff’s lead. It’s simplistic and fun, with the verses being a little more laid back and the choruses entering ultra-catchy territory. It’s a perfect build up, and the songwriter (presumably Campbell?) clearly understands melodic rock structure. I love it.

Ay-Hole can review the whole album. I just want to spread MY word on a cool band that’s spreading THE word.

Check out the track in it’s entirety here.

Micro-Reviewery 13: Bob Mould, Assemblage 23, Scare Tactic, Rough Surf



Bob Mould – Patch in the Sky

Done goofed and missed this back in March. The third in an alleged trilogy based solely around the fact that he has an adept touring band with members of Superchunk, the only real constant being that they constantly switch between fast pop-punk and slower college alt-crawls. Either way, the hooks are up and the volume’s almost always punching your face. As far as I’m concerned, as long as Mould doesn’t touch an acoustic guitar (which hasn’t happened often for almost thirty years), he’s a top five songwriter easy.



Scare Tactic – 2016 EP

Released for free download on Bandcamp and on a handful of cassettes, Scare Tactic plays really fast and barks through six minutes of heaven. Honestly, I’ve listened to so many things like this, I could probably fall asleep even if the lead singer jumped out of my headphones and started screaming in my face. Although if he jumped out of my headphones, he’d probably get stuck in my ear canal.



Rough Surf – Please Clap

Rather than saying emo, Rough Surf’s Bandcamp defines them as “sad punk”, a way more endearing term. If Rough Surf’s definition of sad punk wasn’t crappy Akaline Trio derivations, then they’d be onto something. The first six tracks suck, including a mindless three minute instrumental and five craptastic emo blasts. Out of nowhere, “Daisy” strikes with a straightforward irreverence like no other. “Mourning Radio” is pretty great too, but it’s sandwiched between a bunch of acoustic guitars, a pitfall that Bob Mould avoided. I feel bad saying that Rough Surf should be more like Bob Mould, especially because there’s probably a large group of people that would simply adore this music. I think I’m going to have Ay-hole Andy give a second opinion on this one.



Assemblage 23 – Endure

It’s always 2004 when Assemblage 23 is around. Actually, back then, I would have said futurepop wished it was 1984, but 2016 does some weird shit to your brain. There’s not a whole lot new going on with the sound and ultra homogeneity rears its ugly head, but Depeche Mode with electro beats is never a bad thing. Ever.



Michael Sweet – One Sided War

junkheadv1tmbMichael Sweet – One Sided War
Look at the man on the right. Does he look like a bad ass metal God? Or does he look like some douchey guy who’d play rhythm guitar for the Eagles?

Either way, Michael Sweet’s been a part of my life since I picked up Stryper’s To Hell With The Devil on cassette back in 2002. The first and final word on nonsecular mainstream metal, they were frenetic thrashers at their earlier best and sterile hairspray losers at their absolute worse.

After reuniting the band’s classic line-up for over a decade, Stryper released Fallen last year, their heaviest and probably best album yet. Michael Sweet touted the band’s new sound in countless interviews, talking about his love for classic metal bands and how happy the band was to be recording in a harder style.

But I didn’t expect Sweet’s newest solo album to be ten times more amazing. His previous entries didn’t stray too far from melodic hair. Things remain extremely poppy on acceptable tracks like “Radio” and the one absolute abomination, “One Way Up”, but the rest rips hard. “Bizarre” and “Golden Age” are heavier than anything off Fallen, and the slower rockers like “Comfort Zone” and “I Am” are totally solid.

In all honesty, the album peaks at it’s slowest point, the epic “Who Am I”. Burning slow at eighty beats per minute, the opening verse’s bleeding chords and chorus’s soaring lead are a delicious and sincere aside among all the metal riffage. After finishing the album, I replayed it three times just to really grasp what was going on.

Overall though, I’d say most of One Sided War doesn’t take long to sink in. While some of the robust vocal melodies are recycled from previous Stryper releases, the riffs and performances are powerful and fun. Many metalheads will never embrace the glossy production, but at the end of the day, when all is screamed and thrashed, consistent songwriting and bombastic power are all any true metal fan, and thus Michael Sweet fan, really wants.


Hammers of Misfortune – Dead Revolution

junkheadv1tmbHammers of Misfortune – Dead Revolution

Decades and albums later, Hammers of Misfortune still sound like they’re trying to nail a sound down. It sounded like they were on the brink of a stylistic breakthrough with their previous album, 2011’s wacky prog-metal/folk/whatever 17th Street. Every track had a unique sound that still lent itself to a cohesive style, an approach that Dead Revolution drops without any fanfare.

While the organs and crazy harmony antics are still there, they’re buried under a much more traditional classic metal facade. Of course, this isn’t a bad thing at all: “The Velvet Inquisition”, “Dead Revolution”, and “Flying Alone” are all great tracks. Fast, infused almost purely with a NWOBHM focus on tight speed, melody, and rhythm, newcomers to the band will instantly fall in love.

But honestly, old fans SHOULD be disappointed. While partially a return to the more conventional metal styling of some earlier releases, it’s a cheap ploy for metalhead appeal. 17th Street had a lot of bad songs, but they were all over the place: it was a cool and weird combination of Iron Maiden, Queen, Pink Floyd, and everything in between. Even the longer tracks like “The Precipice” and “Here Comes The Sky” stick very close to traditional metal. Now almost purely Maiden style, the band probably uncovered that’s it’s just easier to make straight ahead metal not suck and sacrificed their sprawling sound out of pure laziness.

As if to make up for how awesome and not progressive the first six tracks are, the last track is a ridiculous rendition of the folk song “Days of ’49”. It’s slow, stupid, and Bob Dylan’s version sucked too.

Last track excluded, go listen to Dead Revolution and enjoy the tasty riffs and great harmonies. I’m going to go sit in a corner and whine about how too many bands are defaulting on NWOBHM stylings and not even trying to come up with anything new.


Chemical X – You’ll Never Ban Rock ‘n’ Roll

junkheadv1tmbChemical X – You’ll Never Ban Rock ‘n’ Roll

I woke up this morning desiring two things: listening to the Dwarves Blood Guts and Pussy and finally trying out Crystal Pepsi. Unfortunately, I live in a town largely untouched by crass commercial enterprises. There’s more strange foreign export sodas here than you’ll ever know, with Polish strawberry junk and different types of Vimto being my primary sustenance.

Without Crystal Pepsi, I decided to eschew the Dwarves and find some new music to crap about on Blah Blah Music dot com™.A little too rockin’ to be Oi! punk and too hardcore to be filed safely under pop-punk, Chemical X is everything I love about punk: fast, hooky, and occasionally telling me to suck its dick. The opener “Cry Baby” embodies this approach, and they even a throw in a cool meedly-meedly solo just to be more awesome. While I’m not sure why they’re concerned with people banning rock ‘n’ roll in the mid-2010s, the sentiments all there baby.

This heightened energy and songcraft returns later on tracks like “Religious Control” and “Freaks Unite”, yet there’s a lot more generic stuff in between. “Are You Stupid?” has been written and performed eight million times done better by other bands. Playing hardcore back in high school, I already know how it goes: you write the guitar riffs first and the vocal melodies are a total afterthought. An approach as old as Ozzy on “Iron Man”, the vocalist apes the power chord’s pitch the entire time.

But still, who gives a shit? It’s all inconsequential when the actual result is an awesome blur of chords and gang vocals. I’d play a show with them.