“Tales From the Pit, Vol. 3” Compilation (2013)

My buddy Travis liberated this record while vinyl digging at an antique mall. It’s been a while since I’ve done that, but my recollections are groups of crappy records with asking prices about 5-10 times their actual value, with most of the records being very common or very obscure. Travis has better luck in those places than I do, and when he came across this copy of Tales From the Pit, Vol. 3 he recognized immediately that, well, it didn’t belong there. This is simply not the kind of record that does or should end up in an antique mall. Plus there’s a local connection because the record was compiled by Whidbey Island Pyrate Punx and Whidbey Island is just a 20 or so minute ferry ride from Seattle. And he knew just who would want such a record… Thanks Travis!

I actually hung around on Whidbey Island a bit back in high school. My friend’s grandfather had a small, rustic cabin on the water and sometimes we’d all pile into my Mustang and head out there on the ferry for an overnight. When the tide was out a long sand spit would become exposed that was a very short rowboat ride from the beach. Needless to say, there were some bonfires had on that spit. And some beers may have been drunk as well. I can neither confirm nor deny that last part (confirmed). So I’ve always had fond memories of Whidbey.

As for Tales From the Pit, it’s crammed with 21 different bands. Most of ’em are from the greater Seattle area, including four from Whidbey itself. There are also a handful from Boise and one each from Portland, New Hampshire (?), and Bejing (???!!!). Stylistically it’s a lot of punk, but there’s some thrash here (Coven’s “Mow ‘Em Down” is pretty rad) and even some high-octane rockabilly. The recording quality varies a bit, but overall it sounds decent. High points include the previously mentioned Coven as well as The Jerkwadz’s “Already Owned”, which is catchy as hell.

I don’t know much about the record itself, other than that my copy is on marbled orange vinyl, as is the one shown on Discogs. No clue about the print run size or any of that. So if you find it, and the price is right, grab it. It’s worth the listen.

Une Misère – “Sermon” (2019)

We first encountered Une Misère at Iceland Airwaves 2017, and it was one of those magical examples of going to a venue to see one band (in this case Hatari) and being unexpectedly blown away by another. Une Misère’s live performance hits you like a runaway semi truck, barreling along at breakneck speed with utter disregard for any obstacle in its path. The sonic and psychic destruction is that complete, and we walked away that evening big fans. We saw them again just a week ago (below), and trust me when I tell you they haven’t lost a step. In fact they may even be picking up speed.

I kept tabs on them after that first exposure and was surprised to find their only output were some digital downloads on their Bandcamp page (and I strongly encourage you to check out 010717 HERE). How did these guys not have a deal, even one with one of the smaller Icelandic labels, to put out a physical release? Well, it took a while, but earlier this year it was announced that Une Misère were releasing their debut LP Sermon, and on Nuclear Blast nonetheless. I was lucky enough to track down a copy of the gold splatter edition while in Reykjavik last week (edition of 500), and this will be the first of many posts on Icelandic releases over the next few months as I dig through the pile of stuff we brought home.

For background on the band I refer you to a feature from earlier this year in the English language Reykjavik Grapevine HERE. The wide-ranging interview included all of the band members and provides a solid background into their history together and motivations.

Sermon captures Une Misère’s live intensity, a crossover of hardcore and thrash, aggro and insightful, the embracing of life’s pain that is necessary in order to overcome.

Struggle to fight the pain within,
I won’t give in,
I won’t give in.
Push on,
Push every word you say,
They won’t hear you,
Blame me,
Feel my vengeance.
— “Voiceless”

The power of the music comes at you from every direction. Pounding drums that sometimes transition suddenly to double bass and then back again, rage-fueled vocals, and not one, not two, but three shredding guitars fill the sonic space. But Sermon is well mixed and there’s room here for everything. “Failure” is the song that sticks out the most, a jam that maintains the core elements of Une Misère’s sound while being very intentionally structured. Yes, it has speed and power, but it doesn’t rely on them so much as it does sculpt them in a way that creates a specific shape and form. “Overlooked/Disregarded” is one of their earliest works, dating back to 2016, and it’s as powerful as ever on Sermon.

This is a killer record and a must-listen-to for those of you who like the hard stuff. You can sample it online HERE.

“Fast Forward To Hell…….” Compilation (1987)

Fast Forward To Hell……. is a 1987 label comp from Metalworks featuring thrash and speed metal bands from England and Germany. Seven bands, ten songs, and a whole lot of speed and power. High points include Angel Dust’s “Legions of Destruction” and Necronomicon’s “Possessed By Evil”. The recording quality is variable – a few tracks sound more like demos that were recorded in someone’s practice space, though most are at least adequate.

I’ll definitely be on the lookout for albums by these German bands when I’m in Berlin this summer. Looks like most of the Germans have had their 1980s albums re-released in the last few years, so while I’ll try for OG pressings it looks like I should have some luck one way or the other.

Genöcide – “Submit To Genöcide” (1987)

Things were kind of weird in the 1980s. Stuff that seemed so extreme then is so banal now, often coming across like you’re sadly trying too hard and failing. I suppose this has always been true, be it the sexuality perceived in young Elvis’ hips in the 1950s the shock value of the rare bit of lyrical profanity in the 1970s. It was probably true in ancient times too; “They fell for a big wooden horse? That would never work today!” So the 1980s were really no different In 1987 Submit To Genöcide songs like “12:00 And All Is Hell”, “Manson Youth”, and “Live To Fuck – Fuck To Live” would have had teenaged eyes opening wide at the sheer extremity and audacity of their titles, but today they’re more likely to elicit a smirk and a chuckle. Some things hold up. Some do not. Such is life.

Musically Submit To Genöcide falls square into the metal/punk crossover thing that was happening at the time, and frankly it still sounds pretty killer to my ears, though quite probably because that’s what was happening in music when I was a teen. The guitars are more metal and thrash, the rhythm and vocals more punk, a bit like DRI. Some songs lean more towards metal (“Predator”) and others are more punk (“Sociopath”), but all-in-all it’s some solid stuff. I would have absolutely loved this if I’d come across it when I was in high school, and as long as I don’t pay too much attention to some of the more ridiculous lyrics I think this will get more spins whenever the thrash mood strikes me.

Vocalist Bobby Ebz (right) lived life hard. An associate (some say friend, some say hanger-on) of GG Allin, Ebz was actually with the notorious Allin at one point on the day GG died of a drug overdose. And like Allin, he too died young. I couldn’t find a birth date for Ebz, but his first album with Genöcide came out in 1982 and he passed away in 2001 (possibly of hepatitis), so best guess is he was maybe around 40 or so. According to those that knew him, the way Bobby dressed and behaved wasn’t an act – he lived that way 24/7. And that, my friends, is a candle that burns hot. RIP Bobby.


“Tito Nikada Više!” (1992) Compilation

As crazy it it seems to me, this is, as near as I can tell, the fifth time I’ve written about a Yugoslavian band or release. Go figure. A few months back I blogged about Azra’s live triple-album Ravno Do Dna and talked a bit about the country’s history under dictator Tito, and one of the things we learned is Tito was OK with rock and punk so long as it didn’t directly talk crap about him. Well, by 1992 he’d been dead for over a decade and many didn’t view his reign through rose-colored glasses any more, hence Tito Nikada Više!, which translates to “Tito Never More”.

The comp includes 16 songs from nine bands, and stylistically most of it falls into either the hardcore or thrash camps. The insert provides lyrics to all the tracks, maybe half of which are in English. Much of it is overtly political with songs like “Citizen’ Choice”, “National Conflict”, and “Madman”, but we’re also treated to some more apolitical fare like the aptly named “Skate or Die”. The recording is a bit flat, but not so much so that it detracts from your enjoyment – it sounds like half the tapes I had back in the 80s. The bands themselves sound good, a bit raw and unpolished, but not in an amateurish way. Particular props to Ekstremisti and their two tracks.

I’d like to know how this ended up in a record store in Denver, but alas that’s something that will have to remain a mystery. If you can get your hands on a copy, I definitely recommend it.