Ever wondered how/why Examination of the… went from their chaotic screamo stylings to the more Neurosis laden The Whitest of Elephants? Me neither, but Pilot This Plane Down could serve as the perfect non-linear missing link. Before I confuse you, I’m not saying either band share any members or anything like that. The common denominators here are experimental ambient screamo and slow crushing meanderings. PTPD just manages to blend them all on to one record(s). Whether it’s building a 20 some-odd minute song (Airs EP), or separating the ambient tracks from the structured songs (Glory of the World LP) Pilot This Plane Down quickly and noisily attack before paralyzing you with the lulling ambiance only so they can drag you down and stuff you under a rock. Every song weaves into each other so well and after getting bombarded by a song like “Conquest,” the bleed into the softer sung, prettier “Decline” is seamless. Don’t get caught napping or scratching your noodle asking “how the fuck did we get here?” because you will be knocked on your ass wondering where your socks went.
Where they started: 2004’s Airs
Where you should start:Glory of the World is just the more complete record as well as having the better quality recordings. Airs forces you to listen to the whole EP (seeing as it is just one song) whereas GOTW's songs can stand on their own, but you kind of want to listen to the record as a whole anyway.
Essential Song (aka only one I could find, but still a good one):
Although these guys haven’t released anything in almost 3 years, there have been rumblings of new material being written and shows being played. Also, member(s?) of Pilot This Plane Down were in a band called Day of Less whose contributors have gone on to form Gaza and Bird Eater among other Salt Lake City bands.
Unholy. Godless. Unforgiving. Who would be better experts than 4 guys from Utah? Back in the mid-90’s Victory Records released albums by a band called Bloodlet. In a time when metal and hardcore were being fused, reviewers were quick to combine just about anything with the “-core” suffix and create a new genre like other bands were soon to follow. Using smart dark lyrics laced with biblical references and a new brooding take on metallic hardcore Bloodlet got tagged with “evilcore.” Some 10+ years later a worthy disciple has finally come along to carry on the moniker.
OK, before things get too serious, I don’t really think “evilcore” is a legitimate genre, nor would I say Gaza or its members are evil. However, Gaza does have a dark and astute take on religion, life, death, and politics. With album titles like I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die and He Is Never Coming Back (it’s a reference to Jesus, get it?) you really don’t have to delve into the music to know where these guys are going with their beliefs. You should want to, though, because, like I said, it’s been almost 15 years since a band has been accomplishing this brand of dark ugly metal with such a cultivated clever rationale. Gaza play sludgy metal/hardcore with elements of doom and grind. It’s grimy, it’s dirty, it’s caustic, and it’s really fucking good.
Similar to Bloodlet’s mid-paced style, Gaza have that off beat drumming that I had never heard until picking up my first Bloodlet record, but it’s very similar to Coalesce’s James Dewees’ never-stop-moving-your-arms-no-matter-what-the-pace-of-the-song method. However, drummer Casey Hensen is far more innovative and wildly unpredictable. Even if guitarist Mike Mason and bassist Tino Lucero are playing the same droney riff for 3+ minutes (the end of “Hospital Fat Bags”) Casey will never play the same fills. The guitars aren’t all drone, though. Gaza use quite a bit of finger-tapping, but contrary to how most bands use finger-tapping for neat sounding solos, Gaza’s uses of it are generally for the more groove oriented parts of the songs. Lastly is Jon Parkin’s roar as he cuts through the rest of the band’s earth shaking heaviness with the more tongue-in-cheek lyrics from IDCWIGWID (“They used you to clean up tears after a Thrice show. Fucking belt buckles everywhere.”) to the more straight forward bellows on HINCB (“He is never coming back. Armies of the half dead with their arms to the sky”). Add in that, unless you’re a pro-basketball player, Parkin will tower over you as his snarl tears holes through your entire belief system and it’s a pretty intimidating experience. His screams sound slightly similar to The Chariot’s Josh Scoggin, but exceedingly more ferocious. Ironic considering their complete opposite views. Both bands do have some similarities actually, but much like how Gabriel and Lucifer were both Archangels.
Where you should start: I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die is the more structured and better produced release. It has a lot more groove and the lyrics contain an air of humor. He Is Never Coming Back is grimier and the lyrics are not only shorter and more to the point, but angrier and have a lot more bite.
Essential Live Video:
If you dig it, check out other recent live videos for some of Jon’s rather humorous sayings between songs.
Caught these guys a few weeks ago and they killed it. Has members of The Franklin Cover Up and one of the guys has filled in on bass for Gaza on a past tour. Click the link for a new song from their forthcoming Full Length http://fuckbonedance.tumblr.com/splash
This is our new album. You can hear a song from the new album here. More songs will come later. The record will be here in October. Melotov Records will be releasing it here in North America, and Throatruiner Records will be releasing it across the pond in Europe. Here’s some words about the record, written by our dear friend Dale Eisinger:
Bone Dance, a ritually charged and menacingly DIY band seeped in all things heavy, is rising from the South Idaho desert with their first self-titled LP for Melotov Records (USA) and Throatruiner Records (Europe).
‘Bone Dance’ takes the grime and gravelly glut of the band’s previous work, the self-released Snakecharmers, and reevaluates not only its intensity, but also the band’s heritage: retooling the ferocity of hardcore, the technical acumen of extreme metal, and the minimal gauze of sludge and doom. This is the kind of tight, controlled, anvil-heavy music that only comes out of an area dominated by the Religious Right, the Conservative Coalition, and some of the most culturally repressive mechanisms in America.
‘Bone Dance’ acts as a document of this inheritance by time and place and on principle rejects all of it. As a combatant to the moderate veneer that glosses even the counterculture in their hometown of Boise, Bone Dance have crafted not a shield but a weapon against the repressive devices they so clearly detest. By deconstructing typical sludge breakdowns, by retooling blast beats into searing grooves, by inverting a biblical poetic into a sinister manifest of their body politic, Bone Dance forges a musical dialogue exemplifying the clash typical of the liberal-conservative head butting seen throughout misleading media; however, the band seems to reject even mainstream leftist views in favor of an utter desert-driven nihilism. Bone Dance proves yet again that the frontier isn’t innovation—the frontier is misery.
Something I once said about The Minor Times can also be applied to Gaza. Masters of the Side 1 Track 1. “Calf,” this track, and their latest, “Mostly Hair and Bones Now,” are such great tone setters. Easy to be stoked on a Friday when you lead off with this.
10. The Life and Times – No One Loves You Like I Do Even though I wouldn’t say that the review I did of this record for Mezzic was a ringing endorsement, I still was excited to see this band perform at Middle of the Map Fest back in April. After witnessing the expansive heaviness and volume with which this record was performed live, the album finally engulfed me. With each listen after that show the album made much more sense and this emotional, overbearing, forlorn indie rock record made its way back into rotation. www.thelifeandtimes.com
9. Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax 2: Future Sequence Whatever you’re expecting from these guys that’s exactly what they’re going to deliver. It just depends on whether you like what Between the Buried and Me is throwing down or not. I’m always impressed with their musicianship and know exactly what I’m getting into when I put on a BTBAM record. The only thing bad I can say about this release (and pretty much anything post-Alaska) is that it’s pretty hard to not listen to songs out of context as each album seems to be one song just separated by track breaks. www.betweentheburiedandme.com
8. For Sleeping or Jumping – Dead Languages I sifted through quite a few really good EPs this year and was actually surprised that only a couple made the list. Seems it’s because it is hard to rank a good EP over a solid full length, yet that’s where we stand with For Sleeping or Jumping. My immediate analysis of FSOJ is that they have a Botch mixed with Helmet feel. Throw in that it was produced by the same guy who did Glassjaw’s Coloring Book and that Ben Weinman of The Dillinger Escape Plan did the sound design and I think you can get a pretty accurate idea of what For Sleeping or Jumping sounds like. www.forsleepingorjumping.com
7. Bone Dance – Bone Dance This is where the list gets a little difficult for me. Not that the first three don’t belong on a top 10, but the rest of the list could leap frog each other at any moment. For instance, A “7” next to Bone Dance? That just doesn’t seem right. This Boise, ID quintet works technicality into their brand of metallic hardcore, relentlessly bashing away at your ears for ten straight tracks never yielding. This record is pissed. www.fuckbonedance.tumblr.com
6. Windshear – Yesterday Moaning The second EP of the list and this band seems to be a bit of an enigma. If you go to their Facebook page you’ll see that they released this record back in February and then ceased to make any kind of updates. Then you notice that they only have 55 likes. I wouldn’t expect this kind of well-recorded output from a band of this stature. I don’t even remember how I found out about this album, but these St. Petersburg (that’s Russia, not Florida) crushers churn out heavy music that’s reminiscent of Norma Jean, but without any singing, just tortured agonized screams that cut through pounding head nodding rhythms. www.facebook.com/Windshearband
5. Fight Amp – Birth Control When I was faced with compiling this list I queued up about 20 records that came out this year to refresh my memory convinced that Fight Amp’s latest release was going to be number one. That’s not a knock against Fight Amp, just a testament to how much I realized the top 4 records actually affected me. I hadn’t even heard the Fight Amp record that came out before this one ( I have now), just the one prior to that (Hungry for Nothing) and it was OK. This one plows through the gate and offers up 8 nasty tracks that fuse dirty rock ‘n roll with metal. Think Young Widows meets Kylesa. www.fightamp.com
4. The Casket Lottery – Real Fear Another band that I saw at Middle of the Map Fest, I have been a fan of The Casket Lottery for years mostly because I’m a Coalesce fanboy and can’t seem to shake anything that their members are a part of. I was weary of a new record, though, because TCL had added a keyboard player and a second guitarist to their formerly 3-piece lineup. Not only that, but some of the vocal duties of older songs had been passed on to one of the newer members. I left that show very unsure of what to think of a reunion so I really wasn’t expecting much from Real Fear. Change is good folks, as this is easily The Casket Lottery’s most mature release. When refreshing myself with this record I was often surprised and amazed by the riffs and catchy songwriting. This record almost sheds any indie rock leanings and is quite the formidable straight up rock album. The Casket Lottery on Facebook
3. Gaza – No Absolutes In Human Suffering Definitely the heaviest album of this past year. I may not be floored by every song on this record, but Ballou’s production fits this band so well which begs for the record to be listened to in full, not sporadically jumping back and forth through tracks. Just front to back a complete metal album. www.facebook.com/GAZAMUSIC
2. Death Grips – No Love Deep Web I slept on Ex Military last year, but that album made its way through my speakers quite often this year and for the first time since hearing about Wu-Tang’s Forever I was eagerly awaiting a new hip-hop record. I wasn’t as impressed with The Money Store and that left expectations kind of low for their second release of the year. Then Death Grips threw up their middle fingers to the entire industry, and really just about anyone that isn’t named Stefan Burnett or Zach Hill. What followed was the grimiest and dirtiest hip hop album I’ve ever heard as these guys released this record to the world for free when Epic tried to shelve it for another year. www.thirdworlds.net
1. Deftones – Koi No Yokan I tried really hard for this to not be the #1 record on my list. I mean it’s not even in my top 3 favorite Deftones records. It’s also, easily, their mellowest album they’ve ever released. The fact is that even though this record came out in November it’s the record I listened to the most this year. It’s flawless. There’s no track worth skipping, everything flows together so well, and it’s an enjoyable listen for just about any time and mood. www.deftones.com
(Not so) Random Start: Heiress (Australia) - “Anathema”
I think that most people would look at how I spent my night as a complete waste since the most eventful moments were sifting through Australian hardcore bands and… well… essentially beard growing (I think my social life has started practicing nihilism). But nights spent with friends, or even the opposite (or same, whatever) sex, never leads to discovery like this. I was just searching bands on bandcamp tagged with Botch or, in this case, The Dillinger Escape Plan, though I am weary of bands throwing around the DEP tag. Heiress explodes immediately and never lets up. It’s definitely more Botch than DEP with a lot of elements of The Chariot, but I hesitate to say that because the angular guitars and song structures are way more innovative and crushing. I guess that’s why I said Botch in the first place. Anyway, this record never lets up. There’s no filler and, even though there’s not much variance in the songwriting, each track contains a “HOLY SHIT” moment. Also, I’m a sucker for the vocal style used in this opening song, the kind where it sounds like a normal voice rising into a scream… make sense? Think the end of “Gristle” by Gaza when Jon Parkin is repeating “Pray, it’s malignant” and there is a moment when you can hear the anguish rising in him. Think that OR listen to this album.