How is no one talking about this band? Seriously, this is fucking criminal. Mark Riddick has made a name in the underground metal scene with his amazing artwork (including the album cover shown here), but he also makes some really impressive death metal. Sounding like a cross between early Rotting Christ and a little bit of old school death metal, Fetid Zombie's music is haunting, captivating, and surprisingly melodic. I first found out about the band when I randomly picked up a split the band appeared on with Greek black/thrash band Swamp. I was blown away by Fetid Zombie's work, so when I randomly came across a full-length album, I jumped at it. And I am damn glad I did, because this album is fantastic. Seriously, Riddick's music is just as impressive as his artwork.
I used to read about stuff mentioning Wild Rags Records a ton, particularly on the old Metal Inquisition blog. It was an underground metal label in the late 1980's to late 1990's specializing in death metal and grindcore which was fairly infamous for being a bit sketchy in their business practices. Well that and the head of the label being wanted for income tax evasion and disappearing. Anyway, I came across a seller selling a bunch of old Wild Rags demos from the early 1990's and decided to pick something up for the hell of it. Previously, I only had an Impetigo album from the label, so this was something kind of new. Mausoleum is an old school death metal band and this is a quick three-song demo. It is fairly interesting stuff while listening to it, but ultimately not particularly memorable. There is likely a reason this band never released anything beyond two demos. Apparently, there was talk of a reunion at one point, but that never came to fruition.
Would you believe that this is actually the first proper album I have ever owned by Lemmy Kilmister and company? It is true. Previous to this, the only thing I owned by Motorhead was a Greatest Hits compilation, which I bought some time before deciding that such compilations were kind of lame. As much as I enjoyed it, I never really saw a need to pick up something else. I decided to change that and picked up a reasonably cheap one that contained a song I knew I enjoyed ("I'm So Bad (Baby I Don't Care)"). I was a little surprised by the diversity of this album. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from Motorhead, but was shocked by some of the slower songs, in particular the heart-wrenching title track. Of course there were the fast-paced Jack-and-coke-fueled tracks, but the variety made this a damn good album.
In the late 1980's, a lot of thrash metal bands were becoming more and more progressive and technical. Bands like Heathen were at the forefront of this movement, but one of the best bands to tackle the style was the underrated Watchtower. Watchtower utilized influences from genres as diverse as jazz fusion in their brand of thrash metal. What results is a bizarre mix to say the least, yet Watchtower, in particular guitarist Ron Jarzombek, have the chops to pull it off and write some damn catchy songs to boot. The biggest problem with a lot of technical bands these days are that the technical ability oftentimes overshadows the hooks. Watchtower never fell into that trap. Unfortunately, this was their last full-length. There have been some short releases in recent years, so it is always possible we could see another Watchtower album soon.
This is the second time I have bought this album. The first one I bought, I made it through the first side of the cassette and the tape snapped off the reel. I tried to fix it myself, but that did not work out so well. So, that was it. A lot of Japanese metal is just like the rest of Japanese pop culture, weird. X Japan (or just X) is incredibly diverse with some speed metal tracks to go with mid-paced rockers and ballads. The lyrics often alternate between Japanese and English. There are a number of highlights, including the touching "Endless Rain" and the infectious "Week End". This was a band I was just wanting to experiment with, along with other Japanese bands, such as the much more straightforward Loudness, but I am glad I took a chance on them.