June has now come and gone which means the year is halfway done, oof. This week I will be going through some of my favorite releases of the year that have not been covered in this spot before. As I thought about this year, I realized how contained my listening has been. I have listened to very little noise this year, shocker. I have been in a noise coma but I do want to grip that noise tribute to NORTH KOREA (featuring Con-Dom and Grey Wolves) that I recently peeped. By the end of the year, this list will have multiplied ten times over but for enjoy these reviews of records that are from like…March but still very good: Rot Shit, Vile Gash and the latest Burzum record.
Rot Shit, You’re Welcome EP (Columbus Discount)
Stupidly offensive “scene” commentary punk is just about the last thing I would expect myself to listen to and enjoy in 2010 but, well, I guess I was wrong. I picked up this 7-inch, released on Columbus Discount Records, as a joke after I saw the band’s final New York performance with Blues Control, Home Blitz and Drunkdriver. Then I found myself shamefully singing the chorus of “Dead” to myself one day in between classes. Oh well. I always hoped that I was smarter than making Skrewdriver jokes, but I guess not and I will have to deal with that one on my own time. “Dead” has a catchy chant chorus of 2009 punk’s finally dead/ Mike Sniper shot it right in the head but, for the record, positively reviewing this song does not mean I agree with the lyrics. I don’t know the involved parties but the anti-Mysterious Guy Hardcore (or not?) verse on “Dead,” which includes the lines, Sotos worship, I’m really fucking scared/ Some bitch could waste you if she cared does amuse me. That part is probably true at least? Rot Shit must be at least a little aware of how goofy this all seems to those who are not internet record nerds or friends with them but they seem to relish that part of it, especially on closing track “Local Band Forever,” which is, as you can tell from the title, a celebration of being a local band. I admire that. I really have nothing to say about the song “Hipster Grandma” though. Nothing at all. More importantly, who knew there was such an eye for fashion among these guys? I will ignore the word DEAD written across the bodies of models and choose to focus on the fact that someone in Rot Shit had to go find these fashion spread images for the artwork. Get from Columbus Discount Records HERE.
Vile Gash 7-inch (Youth Attack)
…And speaking of Mysterious Guy Hardcore, Vile Gash’s long sold out 7-inch on Youth Attack was another stand out of the year. Youth Attack releases are kind of like the Beanie Babies of 2009/2010 in the punk/hardcore world. I mean, the collector and fan of good music in you might love collecting and snuggling up to these uniformly packaged—typically with a spooky black and white image—and very limited edition releases but in ten years when you grow up, you might wake up to find your closet filled with shit you can not foist upon some unsuspecting eBay user. Trust me, I know this from experience. For every Youth Attack garbage bag shirt which is totally pointless but highly desirable, much like that Princess Diana Beanie Baby, there is a gem of a record like this Vile Gash 7-inch or the Veins demo from this year. Vile Gash have comfortably fit ten songs on a 7-inch and with titles like “Bullshit Life,” you can expect something good. Brevity is essential, subtlety is not. As expected, the lyrics for this :29 second rager go something like “I can’t stand this bullshit life.” YES. The next track, “Incapable,” opens with a slower, sludgier riff. I would be interested to see Vile Gash do a few more one to two minute songs like this one, just to see how it feels. If not, I am completely satisfied where they are right now. Since this came out on Youth Attack, two pressings have already sold out…sorry boys.
Burzum – Belus (Byelobog Productions)
If anything, 2010 has been a year in which I have had to stand back and question my own personal politics and listening practices. When a critic typically writes about Burzum, and the writer is typically male, he will tell you that he/she is interested intellectually in the genre of black metal and the intellectual influences on Varg Vikernes’ work. But, what is our guilt or responsibility as fans and critics when we say this? This is something I wonder about quite a bit, especially in the context of my gender and my politics, but I have never had a very solid answer to that question. I do find male critics who promote their normalcy as a means of justifying their interest in the deviant and fucked up incredibly frustrating. If you are interested in the deviant then live it! Does “good” music excuse murder, church burnings, hate etc. etc.? Like I said, I have no answer to that but I would rather write about Burzum and talk about these issues then completely ignore the work because it was made by someone who is a bad person and Belus affirms this. Stylistically, Belus is a return to early Burzum but what is infinitely more interesting about Belus is that it does not sound harsh or chaotic to me, two words often used to describe the genre Vikernes pioneered. It is actually a surprisingly relaxing and beautiful album, especially when Vikernes’ stoic spoken vocals kick in on tracks like “Morgenroede” and “Kaimadalthas’ Nedstigning.” It is engaging and thrash-worthy, but never cheesy like other examples in the genre. Certainly these songs are powerful but they do not rely on the trope of “being dark” to establish atmosphere and emotion. The lyrics, half screamed and half chanted, turn out to be mostly about nature. They are not even about nature as in pagan thunder gods and stuff but nature as in like…bunny rabbits and falling snow. To be honest, I would not want to imagine the graying Vikernes wielding a sword, singing about Satan, or wielding corpse paint anyway. Buy HERE.
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