Friday, August 28, 2009

Black Army Jacket vs. Hemlock

Has anyone noticed how few split records there are now? Although the theory didn’t always work in practice, the split record was a great way to get turned on to new bands throughout the 1990s. Or maybe the split would serve as a definitive document of a particular time in the scene. Sure, bands like Agathocles and Unholy Grave will continue to release multitudes of split seven-inches. But it seems like the idea of two bands facing off on a record isn’t used nearly as often as it used to be. A big part of the reason has to do with oversaturation—there really aren’t very many splits in my collection where both bands continue to be worthy years after the fact. But here’s one of the exceptions. Our contenders for this heavyweight bout have a nice clashing of styles that make for an interesting matchup.

In the first corner, we have Black Army Jacket, hailing from central Queens, New York. Along with Devoid of Faith from upstate, Black Army Jacket was one of the bands that held down the fort for real hardcore in the state of New York during the late ‘90s, as far as I could tell. Their 1997 demo got a lot of attention for sounding different than what people usually expected out of hardcore bands from New York. Instead of tough guy histrionics and continuous metal chug breakdowns, Black Army Jacket delivered fast hardcore that was along similar lines as West Coast powerviolence. Their guitarist Andrew Orlando (formerly of Milhouse) also co-wrote Monkeybite zine with Noothgrush bassist Gary Neiderhoff.

In the opposite corner is Hemlock from Brooklyn, New York. Although black metal had become laughably trendy in the late ‘90s; the focus was mainly on Scandinavian bands with a little Cradle of Filth thrown in. Most black metal snobs thumbed their noses at American bands in the genre, but Hemlock proved to be a notable exception. Maybe it was because they’d released their Crush the Race of God CD on the Norwegian label Head Not Found, and would have almost certainly been on Deathlike Silence had Euronymous not met his untimely demise. Or perhaps it was due to their approach. Years before people rated bands based on how “grim/kvlt/nekro” they sounded, Hemlock played ugly, uncompromising black metal that was meant to be uneasy on the ears. No majestic keyboards. No pretty female vocals. No acoustic guitars to convey Norse god worship. Just raw Satanic hatred. As it turned out, Hemlock was the product of members from two of the most hate-fueled ‘90s sludge bands—Cattlepress and Iabhorher—and Dan Lilker of Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, SOD, Exit-13, and Brutal Truth.

Black Army Jacket lands an astounding nine shots in rapid succession, including my personal mix tape favorite “Hot Date” about an attempted date rapist meeting his demise. But then Hemlock rebounds with three hard and heavy blows that blacken the eyes and send the opponent’s mouthpiece flying into the crowd. “We Attack, We Fight, We Win” is one of Hemlock’s song titles, and an appropriate one as they do just that in this bout. It was a hard-fought battle. But what’s this? The state athletic commissioner has just come out with the revelation that the Hemlock tracks were not original material. Apparently these three songs were intended for the drummer’s Terror of the Trees project, but Hemlock adopted them as their own for this bout. The commissioner wants to see a disqualification, but ultimately this decision is up to the judges.

Become a judge here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Save for Your Doomed Future

Profane Existence makes an easy target for derision these days, but one shouldn’t forget that they’ve put out some great records over the years. Everyone should have a copy of Doom’s Police Bastard EP, and the Wallow in Squalor EP from State of Fear is most definitely one of the best hardcore records of the 1990s. Let’s not forget the Nausea LP, the Misery records, or more recent bands like Behind Enemy Lines, Hellshock, and Witch Hunt. Profane Existence also occasionally put out some killer punk bands of the less anarcho/crusty variety, such as Suicidal Supermarket Trolleys and Public Nuisance. But Save for Your Doomed Future by Assrash was always my favorite, and it seems to be one of the more underrated records in the Profane Existence catalog.

I remember picking up a copy of Profane Existence #26 and coming across that Assrash interview. Sure, it wasn’t the most compelling piece of punk journalism I’ve ever read. But from what I could tell, they were real true-blue punks who drank a ton, but still managed to keep their brains intact. And I was a seventeen-year-old punk kid on the hunt for new drunk punk bands to listen to. Since I didn’t have a job and my unemployed mother didn’t have extra cash to give me for things like records, it would be a good while before I got to hear some Assrash. But when I did eventually get a job and some cash, the first thing I did was mailorder some records. One of those orders went to Profane and Save for Your Doomed Future was at the top of the list.

Assrash lived up to the expectations with a seven-inch that sounded like the musical equivalent of a barroom brawl. Drunk and disorderly, loud and obnoxious punk noise…with a slight hillbilly tinge to it. With visions of beer-soaked punks dancing in my head, I could practically smell the alcohol emanating from its grooves. It was just what I needed to sometimes forget about the uptight tribalism of the East Bay scene at the time. But it was bittersweet—I knew they’d never tour out this way. Profane Existence took shots at the East Bay scene a lot at the time; and with the exception of Code 13, none of the Minneapolis bands appeared to be interested in playing the West Coast. Oh well. I heard their reunion at the Extreme Noise Records 15th anniversary show earlier this year was great, which comes as no surprise.

Although it’s been nearly seven years since I stopped drinking, this record has managed to stand the test of time where a lot of my old drunk punk favorites haven’t. The record collectors and other assorted punk rock snobs probably hate Assrash, but fuck them. Give this a listen.

But what’s this about their old drummer Pukey D. Drunk becoming a personal fitness instructor?!

Click here and start saving.

Friday, August 14, 2009

We Don't Care What You Say, We're Gonna Mosh It Up Today

I came across this random quote from someone while Googling for amusing Murphy’s Law info to share: “No matter if you’re a skinhead, a hardcore kid, a ska fan, or a drunken glue sniffer, you don’t know how to party if you don’t know Murphy’s Law.” And you know, I think those sentiments sum up this seminal New York hardcore band nicely. You can cite Municipal Waste as hardcore’s ultimate party band if you want to, but the fact remains that Murphy’s Law partied hard long before the Waste picked up their first beer. And they continue to do so today, whether anyone outside of the NYHC scene realizes it or not. In fact, they completed a European tour last month.

Murphy’s Law had been something of a staple in the NYHC scene for several years when they followed up on the live Bong Blast demo with their self-titled vinyl debut on Rock Hotel, a subsidiary of Profile. (Yes, THAT Profile…the rap label who released Run DMC and Rob Base, among others back in the day.) Philosophically, the album bridges the first two generations of the NYHC scene. Somewhat capturing the first era’s dirty drug/booze-addled lifestyle, tunes like “Sit Home and Rot,” “Beer,” and “Crucial Bar-B-Q” don’t exactly suggest that this is a band known for taking hard and fast political stances. On the other hand, “California Pipeline” was one song that invited criticism from various punk observers due to its ridiculous lyrics. Although it was hard to take the lyrics extolling then-president Ronald Reagan and lines like “I’m a rad Republican, I’m proud to be an American” seriously, NYHC had been undergoing its shift towards the more violent, right-wing mentality that the scene’s second generation is known for. Murphy’s Law was at the helm of this transition, along with fellow stalwarts Agnostic Front, the Cro-Mags, and Cause for Alarm. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and it’s obvious that these bands were less guilty of being Amerikkka’s leaders of the Fourth Reich than they were of expressing ideas that had yet to fully form. Youthful indiscretion, if you will.

Despite the controversy in the punk media, Murphy’s Law managed to secure the opening slot on the infamous Licensed to Ill tour with the Beastie Boys and Fishbone. I can only imagine those shows being quite the spectacle. For better or worse, Murphy’s Law and their good-time anthems introduced slam dancing and stagediving to the arenas of mainstream America. But problems with Rock Hotel and label owner Chris Williamson prevented the band from capitalizing on the opportunities. Although it’s safe to say that Murphy’s Law probably won’t get another crack at fame like they did in the late ‘80s, they’ve never given up. Vocalist Jimmy Gestapo has kept the band alive, weathering the lineup changes and label problems, and continuing to release records and tour the independent circuit to this day.

The Evil Eye is the American Trash Culture advocate, and we are concerned that our citizens don’t have the same access to the first Murphy’s Law album that they used to. When it comes to “party records”—aka records that rarely turn up in good condition—vinyl copies of this album rank alongside Fang’s Landshark and originals of the first Wasted Youth and Verbal Abuse 12-inches. The Murphy’s Law/Back with a Bong CD reissue was once a staple of used bins everywhere, but we fear that this may not be the case in 2009. We at The Evil Eye feel that our fellow Americans deserve better, so enjoy this week’s offering of the first Murphy’s Law album. It's still summertime, and this is the perfect soundtrack to lots of herb and a keg of brew at your own crucial barbecue.
Click here if you’re a rad Republican and proud American!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Virgin Killers

It goes without saying that when people think of the Scorpions, the first song that comes to mind is, of course, “Rock You Like a Hurricane” from their Love at First Sting album. I guess it’s okay if that’s all you want to think about whenever discussing the Scorpions…which is sort of like saying that it’s okay to only think about Green Day when discussing punk rock.

In other words: no, it’s NOT fucking okay. So allow The Evil Eye the chance to help you redeem yourself and get back on your feet.

Back in the 1970s, the Scorpions were a badass hard rock band with a guitar warrior by the name of Uli Jon Roth in their ranks. This is why old school hessians extol the Scorpions’ virtues—because Roth’s guitar pyrotechnics would often overshadow the rest of the band. It becomes all the more obvious when you compare the four studio albums he recorded with them to anything the Scorps released after his departure. The differences between Virgin Killer and Love at First Sting are like night and day. Once you’ve heard this era of the Scorpions, there is no going back.

Virgin Killer was my re-introduction to the Scorpions. For those of you who are still catching up, let it be yours too. Or you can continue stumbling through life like the ignorant loser that you are. It’s your choice.

Time is the virgin killer here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pro Wrestling Primer: Glossary of terms

Before we actually dive in to the subject of pro wrestling, it’s time for us to score MAJOR dork points. We at the Pro Wrestling Primer are actually going to list a glossary of terms that may or may not be used when discussing the True Sport of Kings.

Pro wrestling has its own terminology, just like any other sport or industry. As the general inner workings of the wrestling business became more exposed in the late ‘90s, terms like “angle,” “jobber,” “kayfabe,” and “mark” started to become more widely used among hardcore wrestling fans. At first, usage of these terms by fans was seen as a pretentious attempt to appear more aligned with the inner workings of the business than reality would suggest. Some wrestlers are against the idea of fans using the insider lingo when discussing the business. But times have been changing, whether they like it or not.
[Left: Wrestling Observer editor Dave Meltzer. His newsletter was the first to expose the inner workings of the wrestling business to the fans, and is the template for all of the "dirtsheets" and websites that exist today.]

The infamous "20/20" report on the secrets of pro wrestling, 1984.

When wrestlers write their memoirs, they usually give readers a peek behind the curtain. They confirm or deny years of insider rumors, outline what goes into bringing wrestling matches to life, and they openly use insider terminology. As more books are published and DVDs are released, the more the industry terms come to surface. Although we do not intend to purposely use every piece of lingo listed, most of this glossary consists of basic terms that are public knowledge among die-hard wrestling fans. Due to that, I don’t think this somehow insults the wrestling business by defining and clarifying the terminology. Now let’s hook ‘em up!

Agent: The road agent is usually a retired veteran wrestler working for the promotion in a management position. They help the current wrestlers put together their matches, plan storylines, and relay specific instructions from the bookers.

Angle: The storyline leading up to the match. One wrestler attacks another for whatever reason, and the guy wants revenge.

Attitude Era: Referring to the time between 1997 and 2001 when the WWF shifted from being family-friendly to a more adult-themed product. Most wrestling fans would say that the Attitude Era ended at WrestleMania 17.

Babyface: The protagonist. The good guy wrestler that the fans are supposed to support on his way to victory.

Blade: A piece of a razor blade, usually concealed in a wrestler’s wrist tape or in their mouths. Blading is when a wrestler cuts their forehead, drawing blood to increase the drama of a match.

Blowoff: The final match in a feud.

Booker: The matchmaker, deciding who wins and loses and how.

Bump: When a wrestler takes a fall to the mat or the floor, it’s called taking a bump.

Bury/burial: When a promotion demotes a popular wrestler by having them appear to have jumped the shark in the fans’ eyes. Usually said wrestler begins losing matches regularly, or they are forced to participate in storylines and characterizations that are designed to make them lose credibility.

Dusty Finish: Usually a match ending in which the babyface appears to have won, but the decision is reversed on some sort of technicality. “Dusty” refers to Dusty Rhodes. Although he wasn’t the first to use that finish, he had the worst reputation for relying on them when booking the NWA and WCW.
[Left: Dusty Rhodes, the only wrestler to have a finish named after him.]

Finish: The conclusion of the match, and sometimes the chain of events leading to it.

Garbage wrestling: Violent matches that make use of weapons like chairs, tables, and seemingly everything else under the sun. Originally coined by Giant Baba of All Japan Pro Wrestling when he referred to Atsushi Onita’s FMW promotion as “garbage.”
[Right: FMW founder and Japanese senator Atsushi Onita, perhaps questioning the direction his promotion is taking.]

Gimmick: A wrestler’s in-ring character, what- ever he or she portrays themselves as to stand out from the rest.

Heat: The audience’s negative reaction towards the heel’s (see below) actions, and how much interest they have in seeing him get beaten up. “White heat” or “nuclear heat” is when the audience more or less has to be physically restrained from jumping the guardrails, which doesn’t happen often anymore. “X-Pac heat” (named for the audience's anti-reaction to former WWF wrestler Sean X-Pac Waltman circa 2002) is when the audience doesn’t react at all, which happens a lot. “Cheap heat” is going the easy route to get a negative reaction, like insulting the local sports franchises. “Canned heat” is when cheers or boos are piped into the arena over the PA or added to TV in post-production.

Heel: The antagonist. The bad guy wrestler who generates most of the interest in a big match because the theory is that fans are paying to see him get his ass kicked.
[Left: One of the all-time great heels, The Sheik, takes a boot from Bruno Sammartino, one of the all-time great babyfaces.]

Hooker: A wrestler who is highly skilled in the art of submission wrestling, with a wide knowledge of crippling holds known as “hooks.” In the early 20th century, these were the guys who worked in the carnivals, taking on all comers.
[Right: Cover for the Lou Thesz autobiography Hooker, chronicling the career of a great wrestler who was more than capable of tying your sorry ass up into a human pretzel.]

Hoss: Inspired by Hoss Cartwright from TV’s “Bonanza,” this is a term used primarily by WWE announcer Jim Ross to describe overly large wrestlers with a limited move capacity.

Hotshot: When a promoter rushes to a feud, the feud’s blowoff, or a big match on free TV (instead of pay-per-view) in order to boost business for the short term. It also applies to angles or heel/babyface turns that are done for shock value, instead of advancing a storyline.

Job: To do the job is to lose the match. Job guys (or jobbers) are the perennial losers…those no-name guys on Saturday morning TV who never stood a chance against anyone.
[Right: Bill & Randy Mulkey, the NWA's best jobber tag team in the mid-'80s.]

Kayfabe: Loosely derived from the Pig Latin pronunciation of the word “fake,” this term is used to describe the illusion that pro wrestling is a legitimate sport. Also used by wrestlers as a verbal signal to stop the discussion due to an outsider’s presence.

Lucha libre: Mexican pro wrestling, the translation of “free fighting.” Used to describe the typical Mexican wrestling style that consists of acrobatic high-flying moves. Luchadors are Mexican wrestlers.

National Geographic segment on Lucha Libre, 1991.

Mark: A carnival term used to describe a sucker. In wrestling, marks are the fans who believe that wrestling is 100% legitimate, and the wrestlers who believe their own hype. The term is also applicable to fans that excessively idolize a particular wrestler, promotion, or style of wrestling.

Mechanic: Auto mechanics fix cars. Wrestling mechanics fix wrestlers. Often, mechanics are the guys who feud with the future main event stars and help get them ready for the position. Other times, mechanics are the in-ring teachers helping younger wrestlers gain experience and ability.

Monster heel: Wrestling’s answer to Godzilla or King Kong. The unstoppable bad guy wrestler who mows down everything in his path, leaving a trail of broken bodies en route to the inevitable clash with the top good guy. As a rule of thumb, monster heels should either be gigantic, grotesque, or just plain scary.
[Left: Kamala, one of the great monster heels of the 1980s]

When a wrestler holds the fans’ interest to where they actually care about their in-ring character and whether they win or lose.

A sudden crowd reaction, be it positive or negative,
usually associated with a wrestler’s arrival in the arena.

Short for promotional interview, when the wrestlers get on the microphone and talk about how they’re gonna kick their
opponent’s ass in their next match. Either an interview or a skit that advances a storyline or feud.

One of the best promo men of all time, Rowdy Roddy Piper.

Psychology: The thread that holds a match together, the story, if you will. It can be as simple as a wrestler going after an opponent’s bad leg or trying to execute a move that they know will have a devastating effect on their opponent. An individual wrestler’s ring psychology is what gets the audience involved in their performance, either by good wrestling or the mannerisms they display.

Puroresu: Japanese pro wrestling. The term takes the Japanese pronunciation of “professional wrestling”—“purofesshonaru resuringu”—and shortens it. Although a pro wrestling glossary of terms exposes extreme dorkdom for sure, I’m still not enough of a dork to actually try pronouncing “puroresu” on a regular basis. We’re just gonna keep calling it “Japanese wrestling” like the typical gaijins we are.
[Right: Two great practitioners of puroresu at work. The late Mitsuharu Misawa prepares to take a hard shot from Kenta Kobashi.]

Push: When a wrestler gains popularity (or notoriety) with wins and positive exposure. Maybe they’ve beaten a better-known wrestler, or they’re involved with a high-profile storyline.

Put over: Enhancing an opponent’s credibility with the fans. This can be done by losing a match or winning in a way that elevates the opponent’s status, or by complimenting them in an interview.

Rasslin’: Derived from the phonetic spelling of how the word “wrestling” sounds when spoken with a Southern accent. Refers to that region’s style of wrestling that is synonymous with the old NWA-affiliated promotions like Jim Crockett Promotions and Mid-South Wrestling, sometimes in a derogatory manner by non-Southerners.

Here's some good old-fashioned Texas RASSLIN' for y'all!
Fritz Von Erich vs. Joe Blanchard, 1966.

Rest hold: A submission hold applied lightly at a designated point in the match to conserve energy and prepare for the next series of moves.

Rib: Practical jokes played on or by wrestlers, to either break the monotony on the road or get revenge for whatever reason. A ribber is, of course, a wrestler with a reputation for playing practical jokes.
[Right: The late Owen Hart, said to be one of the most notorious ribbers in the WWF locker room.]

Ring general: A wrestler with all the ability to command a match with drama and believability on a consistent basis.

Ring rat: A derogatory term used for wrestling groupies, also referred to as arena rats.

Selling: Reacting to moves as if they were full-force, and convincing the audience that you’re really taking a beating from your opponent. Simply put, the fans have got to buy what the wrestlers are selling. Overselling is overreacting to another wrestler’s offense, like tumbling head over heels across the ring from a simple punch. No-selling is not giving any reaction to the other wrestler’s offense at all.
[Right: Ricky Morton of the Rock 'n' Roll Express. His ability to sell a beating started many a riot in the arenas when fans would jump the guardrail to try rushing the ring so they could help him fight back!]

Shoot: When the wrestlers drop the script and go at it for real, be it in the ring or on the microphone. Former wrestlers also do “shoot interviews,” where they reveal confidential information on the industry or their fellow wrestlers. A “shooter” is a wrestler who has a legitimate fighting background, be it in Olympic-style wrestling or mixed martial arts. “Shootfighting” is the term for mixed martial arts, used in comparison to pro wrestling’s staged performances.

Smart mark: “A mark with a high IQ,” as the late Brian Pillman put it. Not really, but Pillman supposedly coined the term in the first place. Used to describe fans that enjoy pro wrestling despite knowing fully well that it’s staged. They have a general knowledge of the inner workings of the wrestling business based on stories from insider newsletters like Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer. Generally looked down upon by a lot of wrestlers for believing they know more than they really do about the wrestling industry, as well as their supposed inability to suspend their disbelief.

Brian Pillman coins the term "smart mark" at ECW's Cyberslam '96.

Sports-Entertainment: The infamous term coined by Vince McMahon to differentiate the WWF/E product from traditional pro wrestling, and broaden his audience. The opposite of “rasslin’,” mixing wrestling with overly scripted storylines and borrowing concepts from other forms of popular culture and entertainment.

Spot: A move that is specifically designed to get a particular audience reaction, or determine the pace of the match. A high spot is a move that is particularly exciting or dangerous.

Spotfest: When high spots are the order of the day. At best, they are highly athletic and exciting exhibitions of impressive moves that often resembles pro wrestling’s version of a kung fu movie fight scene. Or a car crash. At worst, the exhibition degenerates into a senseless display of athleticism, employing little use of selling and psychology.

Squash: A one-sided match that usually ends quickly. Remember when you used to watch wrestling on Saturday mornings? And you got pissed because most of the matches pitted a well-known wrestler against some poor sap who never stood a chance? Those were squash matches, simply designed to establish the better-known wrestlers and the moves they had in their arsenal.

1980s squash match pitting King Kong Bundy & Big John Studd vs.
Ivan McDonald & Daryl Bowlin. Three guesses who wins.

Stiff: 1) When a wrestler puts full force into their offense, be it intentional or otherwise. 2) A larger-sized wrestler with limited mobility, often due to overuse of steroids or growth hormones.

Strong Style: A term used to describe a style of Japanese wrestling that emphasizes overly stiff contact and working a more shootfighting-based offense.

Tapout: Giving up to a submission move by tapping on the mat like they do in mixed martial arts. Previously, a submission was verbally acknowledged, but the tapout was more obvious and exciting. The tap- out was introduced to pro wrestling in 1995 by former ECW wrestler Taz, who was a big fan of MMA and por- traying a character similar to UFC fighters.
[Right: Taz. ECW's Human Suplex Machine pioneered the tapout in pro wrestling during the mid-to-late '90s.]

Transitional champion: The holder of a traditionally short title reign that bridges two longer-running reigns by more popular champions.

Turn: When a wrestler switches from babyface to heel, or vice versa.

Tweener: A wrestler whose personality blurs the line between babyface and heel. Also used to describe wrestlers who are cheered by fans, despite employing cheating tactics typically done by heels.

Worker: I crack up at the online debates over who is and isn’t a good worker. From what I’ve deduced, this is what a good worker can do: 1) draw that big money and fan interest, 2) wrestle a decent match that looks good, and 3) not legitimately injure their co-workers in the process. Hardcore wrestling fans the world over say that Hulk Hogan was one of the worst workers of all time, yet he drew more money and fans than anyone else in North America. Somebody is wrong here, and I’m not sure that it’s Hogan. Good workers can also lead a lesser opponent through a match and make them look like they have more in-ring ability than they really do.

Two of the worst workers ever drawing the smallest crowd of all time. Right.

Worked shoot: A storyline that weaves in elements of reality, like using an off-screen incident to build the on-screen rivalry between the combatants.

Workrate: I rarely use this term myself, and have had a hard time finding a good definition for it. Internet fans used to jizz themselves silly using “workrate” to describe how many impressive moves Wrestler A knew how to do. My impression is that the term has more to do with summing up a wrestler’s overall in-ring performance level than it does with the ability to do every wrestling move you can name.

And there we have it. Don’t you feel like you’ve learned something today? Now that you’ve gotten your education in proper pro wrestling lingo, we can begin to make our way to ringside where the action takes place! Back to you, Gorilla Monsoon!