Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The return of...

Horror Epics is The Evil Eye's second annual month-long horror film review series done, of course, in the spirit of the Halloween season! Some of these movies are classics, and others might be on the more obscure side. There's also some that may not fit the "horror" genre 100% because that's sometimes the way we like to do things around here. With the YouTube community's help, we're doing our best to include the original theatrical trailers with each review. Also new this year is the Horror Epics Double Feature, bringing you twice the fright every Sunday morning!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Spider Rules Your Emotions

I was at an ill-attended Gilman show about seven years ago, and pawing through one of the Portland distros for some new Japanese hardcore to listen to. After some reasonably careful consideration, one of the CDs I settled on was the highly recommended The Spider Rules Your Emotions CDEP by AGE (Armed Government’s Error), who I knew nothing about. Later that night, I was leveled by the onslaught of AGE and needed more.
Five songs (one of them is a buried track) of blazing crusty hardcore demanded to be played at an excessively loud volume. Killer guitar solos coming from the SDS school of fretboard gymnastics. Before it was over, I had already hit the “REPEAT” button on the CD player so I could blast it a few more times. For the most part, previous AGE records like the Four Wings LP are well versed in their Amebix/Anti-Sect/Bolt Thrower influences. But The Spider Rules Your Emotions is much closer to the classic Japanese hardcore sound that really gets my blood pumping.
AGE came to the Bay Area on tour a couple years ago, and I was one of apparently quite a few who didn’t go to see them. This was during a time when I wasn’t really going to shows at all for my own (personal) reasons. But this CDEP gives me a clear impression of what I probably missed. The top-notch Japanese hardcore bands are usually a cathartic experience live, and AGE could very well have been of those.
Click here for your emotions.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Get Action!

Whenever Japanese garage punk is mentioned, Guitar Wolf is usually the name that comes to most folks’ minds. And rightfully so. I’m not saying they’re wrong in the slightest. But to me, the first band that comes to mind is Teengenerate. Although Guitar Wolf are undoubtedly Japan’s kings of lo-fi, trashed-out rock ‘n’ roll, it’d be an error in judgment to simply write off Teengenerate as inferior. That’d be like turning down a free $100 bill just because it’s wrinkled or something. Guitar Wolf is rock ‘n’ roll in its out-of-control, sweat-drenched glory. Teengenerate is less chaotic in their approach, yet faster-paced and more punk-influenced. Chocolate or vanilla, which do you prefer?

Back in 1995, my friend Ben and I were at Free Radio Berkeley to “promote” an upcoming gig both of our bands had with Oppressed Logic. Their singer Mike had a slot on the station, and we were going to hang out and bump some tunes while talking about the show. We’d gotten there early, so we opted to hang out drinking 40s and smoking cigarettes while the previous show went on. The DJ was this girl Claudia who used to sing for an early Criminals lineup, and I don’t think she appreciated us being there. She played a song from Get Action! somewhere in there, which got my approval but not Ben’s. On the way to Free Radio Berkeley, Ben had been bitching about how many times Teengenerate had been brought up to him that day, so he was none too pleased about this happening yet again. If I remember correctly, she was reading off the playlist and being cute acknowledging our presence, asking us “ruff and tuff punkers” what we thought of Teengenerate. I said I liked them, of course. Ben was kinda drunk and growled “I fucking HATE Teengenerate!” right into the microphone. Claudia got all bent out of shape and made some comment about our having bad taste, forgetting that I said I liked them. It was pretty funny.

Now that I think about it, Teengenerate was actually the first Japanese punk band I ever heard, via their Full Service split EP with the Rip Offs in the mid ‘90s. Although I have always been more a fan of the hardcore side of punk, there were a number of great garage bands during this time. I vaguely remember hearing a band called the Spoiled Brats who were good, trashy fun. The Rip Offs were fantastic, and Rip Off Records released a lot of the best bands playing this style then.

Get Action! is Teengenerate’s first album, released by Crypt Records in 1994. Although they’d only been around for a year, they’d already made quite an impact on the garage punk scene with their split seven-inches and compilation tracks. People who saw Teengenerate’s San Francisco shows have told me that they were one of the best live bands they’d ever seen. If only I was old enough to attend those shows…I’d probably agree.

Get Action here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Scum System Kill

I think that most astute fans of Japanese crust are familiar with this band: Osaka’s Societic Death Slaughter, more commonly known as SDS. These punk/metal bastards had already been around for ten years by the time they released the Scum System Kill EP, having made their first recorded appearance on the obscure Choice is Mine tape comp in 1987. They’d been longtime students of the Anti-Sect school of crust—check out their split LP with Misery—when Scum System Kill (and the Total Insubordination comp that preceded it) marked a distinct change in their sound. Although SDS did occasionally allow their songs to pick up the pace, Scum System Kill was the first record where they really combined their crusty metal influence with primal hardcore aggression to the maximum effect. The title track sets the pace with a blood-boiling intro that explodes into a spectacular display of guitar pyrotechnics and blazing speed. Although it’s an otherwise good song, the shrieking demon vocals on “Distort Fucking Hope” might grate on some listeners. But the flip side starts with “1000 Million Crying” (what?), a similarly quick-paced number that puts things back on the right path. And where else does it lead but “Straight to Hell.” Although it isn’t as immediately satisfying as “Scum System Kill,” this song is probably the best example of the band’s old/new approach coming together. SDS would expand the sound further with the Ameber 12-inch a year later.

Consensus Reality had Scum System Kill in their distro at the 1998 Slap a Ham Fiesta Grande, and somehow everyone managed to pass it up. Apparently the kids had Spazz records on their minds and forgot to keep their eyes peeled for the kinds of bands that you didn’t always find in the regular local show distros. I knew of the SDS/Misery split LP, so I went for it and just about got my head blown off when I put it on later that night. The kids didn’t know what they were missing that night by not paying better attention to the Consensus Reality distro, but that’s why I still have an SDS record and they probably replaced those Spazz split 7-inches with the Make Up or something equally hideous.

Click here to kill your scum system.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Kick Up Ass!!

The Gaia were part of that first wave of Japanese hardcore bands to hit the Bay Area in the mid ‘90s, and played a big part in setting the standard for future bands to come. I don’t remember why I didn’t go to their first show, but I remember hearing about it. They played at Gilman in November of 1995, in between the Pee Chees and Bikini Kill. The Gaia started dishing out the hardcore and apparently, the Riot Grrls’ reaction was something akin to running for their lives. I guess there was just too much estrogen onstage for them to handle. Not long after that, Six Weeks put out the Gaia’s No. 1 EP, which is a fantastic piece of vinyl.

Fortunately, the Gaia returned to the Bay Area in early 1997. Again, the show was at Gilman, but with a better lineup—Capitalist Casualties, the Dread, Fields of Shit, and a band from Oregon called Gunpro. It was a great show, and I remember going ballistic when the Gaia started to rip it up. In fact, I puked my guts out after their set from dancing too hard. But damn it all, it was worth it.

Considering that Prank Records, Six Weeks, and Sound Pollution have released a handful of Gaia records between them, I don’t think you could label them an obscure band. Yet I don’t recall their name coming up often when people creamed their jeans over Japanese hardcore a few years ago. Frankly, a lot of those bands weren’t qualified to tighten the Gaia’s bra straps, despite the hype.

Because we figure that their American releases are easier to find, we’ve decided to post the Gaia’s 1994 debut, titled Kick Up Ass!! Amoeba Records in Berkeley had it filed in their Japanese music (and I don’t mean punk) section, and I snapped it up for $7. The title certainly fits as these ladies deal out fourteen thrashings that will reduce even the most macho of frat boys to a quivering mass of jelly.

Get kicked here.