Tape Wyrm II: Reissues Tape Wyrm II: Reissues

I: Victory Lap (reissues)

A reader of Tape Wyrm #1 broached the subject of including metal classics for new comers into the style. I think this is a wonderful idea and I am currently drafting a long list related to each style.
Though narrowing down an entire subgenre of music to a finite list always comes with deep consideration even more anxious fear. Perhaps “reissues” are a good introduction to the topic of classics. Reissues are like classics with a difference lying in the importance being chosen by record labels rather than critics or popular opinion. This fact always shades reissues in cynical commercialism yet the criteria for classics is just as patchy and questionable.

Though new releases are important to any style of music, older albums are almost as important to music culture as well as it allows the public to reflect on past achievements and re-evaluate works based on subsequent legacy. The reissue is a popular staple in the media because it reloads veteran albums in a proverbial cannon to soar through the commercial stratosphere once again. Whether to collect well deserved attention, beg for scraps of importance or merely try a second time to make proper introductions varies from album to album. The same could also be said about the presentation as the type of reissue varies from elaborate box art to a digital transfer from cassette. Regardless of motive, re-issues benefit everyone as they allow record labels to collect sales and critics to discuss older albums with the type of vigor and hindsight that time has allowed. Idealistically, no reissue should ever make it to any end of the year lists so their re-release comes with a more relaxed atmosphere. This is their victory lap. Below are some of the May, June & July reissues which I have deemed noteworthy. Certainly, one may argue my claim in the space below but for now, it’s time for some Fuckin’ Death.

 

Death Strike – Fuckin’ Death (1991)
Death Strike was a death metal outfit based in Chicago who was active during the late 1980’s. Their similarly titled demo Fuckin’ Death’ (1985) was an early entry into the development of death metal. Dark Descent records releases their first and last full length Fuckin’ Death on limited vinyl with two additional tracks. Musically, Death Strike is nothing less than drunken assault by four people with the intention of brutal harm. While the band sticks close to the noisy death / thrash they have become known for, there are moments in Fuckin’ Death made of pure psychedelic bliss such as the doom driven “Remorseless Poison.” This will most likely be your introduction to Death Strike unless you are that one person with your arms crossed in the back and a smug look on your face. Listen just shut up, there’s a lot of music we all need to go through. Stop smiling.

 
Alcest – Le Secret (2005)
This album fucking rocks. French black metal musicians who have ties with the excellent and mysterious Peste Noire record a black metal demo which goes nowhere. Everyone in the band leaves except for one member who later records a shoegazing EP with black metal overtones (or the other way around). The sound premiered in Le Secret would later provide inspiration for the jaw dropping Souvenirs d’un autre monde (2007). If you were looking to punch whoever started this whole avant-emotional spin on black metal, I couldn’t specifically name names but I could certainly point you in the right direction. Alcest recently made headlines last year after the release of Écailles de Lune, another grand record in their ever growing soft-as parchment style of black metal. Le Secret still sits on a harsher plane than Alcest’s recent work but is still a giant leap from their original demo. And while it is only 27 minutes, its influence and dent in contemporary black metal can still be felt today.
 
Death – Human (1991)
Jesus Christ. It is my belief that even people without the interest in death metal or metal in general should own a Death record. Chuck Schuldiner’s influence within the world of extreme metal should make it enough to have at least one Death record becoming a staple in contemporary culture. I’m wondering when Scream Bloody Gore will be chosen for historic preservation. Four years after their first release, Death struck metal gold with Human which not only contributed a large portion to the blooming tech-death scene but allowed the band to filter through the MTV airwaves with their video for “Lack of Comprehension.” Human is a masterpiece — not only for the time but today nearing its 20th anniversary. With that said, it is important to note that a listener can not go wrong with any Death album released during the band’s 11 year career. The Relapse sponsored anniversary commemoration reaches beyond Human as the label is not only reissuing every Death record but the pre-Death Mantis collection as well as the post-Death Control Denied releases (including the unfinished 2001 When Man and Machine Collide) If you needed any more reason to start a respectable Death collection, now is the perfect time to start.
 
Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard Of Ozz (1980)
Because here at Tape Wyrm, we strive for obscurity. If there is anyone who needs a reissue -less- it is Ozzy Osbourne. The same could be said about Black Sabbath as nearly all of their albums still live in the golden light of commercial sales. I would be dismissive of this reissue if I did not like it so much. Released in the same year as Black Sabbath’s first non-Ozzy record Heaven And Hell (With Ronnie James Dio), Blizzard Of Ozz pushed Ozzy’s commercial form of heavy metal into bold new horizons. 1980 could be seen as a restart for both entities as Black Sabbath with Ozzy had been declining rapidly during the late 70’s (sorry fans of Never Say Die). Because Epic is in charge of the reissues, a special super duper -no girls allowed- anniversary pack includes both remastered albums (Diary Of A Madman included), coffee table book, 180 gram vinyl copies, replica cross and exclusive DVD. Fans willing to pay over 150$ will most likely get what they pay for — the price of 10 other new metal albums for two you already heard. I’m just joking. Not really.
 
II. Recent Recommendations

Light Bearer – Lapsus
Light Bearer has been called many things. Post metal, atmospheric sludge and conceptual post hardcore. While many of those qualifiers fit this brutish British band, the group itself skirts many genre conventions. Starting with Isis and ending somewhere else, Lightbearer enters the first chapter in a planned four volume epic detailing the exile of Lucifer from the kingdom of Heaven. What type of music should be the soundtrack to this grand narrative? Post metal, atmospheric sludge and post hardcore of course. Though many songs stretch into the double digits, Light Bearer manages to make every moment interesting and filled with energy. If they can keep up the level of quality heard in Lapsus, Light Bearer will be the band of the decade … most people will never have heard of.

Devin Townsend Project – Deconstruction
Oh Devin Townsend, when will you stop making interesting records. Progressive, Loony Tune, Devin Towsend unleashes Deconstruction, the first of two 2011 records bringing a close to a four record cycle started in 2009. If the promise of an industrial prog concept record supposedly chronicling the life of a vegetarian’s descent into hell with collaborations from a dozen extreme metal veterans isn’t enough, wait for the acoustic follow-up released in the same month. No seriously, when I’m 39, I want to be making records like this. Interested participants of this Devin Townsend Project can also check out the first two 2009 volumes Ki and Addicted as well as the forthcoming closer Ghost. No Seriously, this guy is a nut and his music keeps getting weirder and more awesome.

Serpent Throne – White Summer; Black Winter
I shouldn’t like Serpent Throne as much as I do. Their stoner throwback to the volcanic times of the mid 70’s has been done before with a thousand different names. Additionally, Serpent Throne removes the sword and sorcery lyrics leaving only instrumental tracks. Just hand me that 3 foot bong and lets get this over with. I shouldn’t like this as much as I do — but I fucking love it. The same thing which attracted me to The Sword’s Age Of Winters and just about every magazine fantasy comic from the mid 70’s burns bright and hot in White Summer Black Winter. When this record plays, my hair is long, my fingers are stained with resin and it’s the first day of an endless summer. Time to climb in the van gentleman, we got shit to do.

Peste Noire – L’Ordure à l’état Pur
There are many things to say about the French black metal band Peste Noire mainly because the band refuses most forms of press, general inquiry and warmhearted compliments. Peste Noire strives for an underground form of black metal which is hinged on an orthodox mindset and strict elitism. The band diametrically opposes the use of the internet in promotion and access to their music. This survivalist mentality lies somewhere between insane audiophilia and a reasonable argument against social networking.

Peste Noire is merely a vessel in which the current cultural zeitgeist passes through one end and is shit out the other in the form of a record. The band doesn’t care if you enjoy their records and in fact prefers it if you don’t. If you were playing with a ball and it fell in Peste Noire’s backyard; Peste Noire would keep it — and possibly deflate it in front of you. This is black metal which makes you feel unprepared for liking black metal. Their albums are banned by my fiance due to frontman Famine’s voice resembling the last brays of a dying calf. L’Ordure à l’état Pur offers listeners another vile piece of recorded black metal– one that stands at the nexus of political philosophy, historical storytelling and unequivocal hatred.

PS. While leadman Famine is deftly anti-internet, there are rare occasions where he does online interviews. In this 2009 press conference, Peste Noire exchanges the mysterious silence for jaw dropping, bat shit crazy madness. I am currently trying to get an interview with Famine but my hope is when I do, our exchange will end something like this:

I abide by the code of honour and chivalry, so to all those who repeatedly insult me on forums hiding behind their computer screen. I am available at anytime of the day for a fistfight or any type of sword or crossbow duel. I just purchased an automatic pistol crossbow. It’s a mix between a gun and a crossbow, it’s like a pistol but it fires arrows. I killed a goat with a shot in the stomach at point-blank range by alluring it with grass; the beast died three hours later. I will do the same with you. I know that you like grass, like all sheep do.

(slow clap)

III: Epilogue

Some questions were brought up after the release of Tape Wyrm #1 specifically related to the column’s thesis. Some people were confused as to what this was and who this was intended for. It would be irresponsible of me to assume everyone newcomers into the style of heavy metal and thus I will be careful when using my tone. I came to the conclusion that Tape Wyrm was merely the textual manifestation of me talking to a friend about music I care deeply for. If you are reading this far then you can be considered my friend which now sits on the other side of a table filled with empty beer glasses. We have been talking for hours and you just asked me about music. It is my hope that I can communicate a certain level of excitement and wonder I have for this particular style of music. It is a level of passion which is absent in most areas of my life– specifically my day job. I wonder what my supervisors would say if I took my job as seriously as I do old metal records. The world would run more smoothly. But again, this is true for anyone where the things we want to do and the things we have to do are two separate things.

-Scotch Dragon out-



One Response about “Tape Wyrm II: Reissues”

  • Charles says:

    AHAHAHAH!!!! PESTE NOIRE! AHAHAH!!! oh…oh my do I adore them so. so raging, so hissy, so pissy. so FRENCH!