Wednesday, February 27, 2013


On tap in the coming weeks are interviews with;
Jason Luchka, bassist/vocalist of Deathcrawl 
Dave Ignizio, owner/operator of Square Records
and Jason Tarulli, former bassist of Hell's Info, owner operator of Studio Time Studios and current house engineer for the Black Keys.

Thanks for checking in.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Obsessed "Live at Koln"

I don't think it is hyperbole to call The Obsessed, and Wino in particular, "legendary".  A lot of people use that word and others, such as "epic", fairly loosely and with little justification.  The Obsessed, however, can rightly be seen in that light.  There have been thousands of bands that have followed the floor plans drawn up by Black Sabbath with varying degrees of success.  Much of this success (or lack of it) depends on how many other elements these Sabbath acolytes bring to the table.  It simply is not enough to ape Sabbath and worse still, to ape a Sabbath clone.  Some bands drench themselves in a haze of smoke and are content to jam out quasi-blues riffs endlessly.  Others take the sound to it's logical conclusion and drag the tempo through the mud until the sound barely resembles music.  Still, others rely on gothic overtures and self indulgent passages that lead nowhere fast. 

 I am painting with broad strokes.  There are some bands who could neatly fit into one or more of those stereotypes that are amazing in spite of the cliches. But that may be due to the fact that they were adding these elements before they became cliches.  In other words, they took the Sabbath sound, innovated and created their own style.  Bands like Eyehategod, Grief, Electric Wizard, Buzzov*en, Sleep (and a handful of others) are good examples.

The Obsessed have often been lumped in with other doom, sludge, stoner (insert adjective here) metal/rock bands, but really have little in common with any of them.  The Obsessed, in spite of being incredibly heavy, having some bluesy riffs and some slower tempos, are nowhere near being a mere Sabbath acolyte, except in that they are definitely a metal band.  That glaring fact aside, The Obsessed (like Pentagram and Saint Vitus) are a whole other beast altogether.  Unlike many of the bands that are using the same road map, much of what The Obsessed did sounds like the streets and Wino's world -weary vocal captures that perfectly. 

Don't get me wrong, the music of Sabbath sounded like it was made by working class guys from Birmingham.  But, all of the occult and hoodoo lyrics leaves one a bit underwhelmed as time passes.  Sabbath no longer carries the same atmosphere of danger that once permeated their music.  It hasn't for a long time.  But, comparing The Obsessed to Sabbath is unfair as well as misleading.  However, the problem is, how does one put The Obsessed in the proper context without mentioning Black Sabbath?  Yes, they are heavy, have amazing blues-influenced guitar work and unconventional, yet iconic vocals...  I guess you can't.  It most likely does not matter since many of you reading this have probably already heard of or listened to  The Obsessed at some point, anyway.

If you are unfortunate enough to have never listened to The Obsessed before, this album is a good a place to start as any.  The set list is pretty comprehensive containing tracks from their first self-titled Lp, "Lunar Womb" as well as "The Church Within".  The quality of the live recording is pretty good and true to form this Lp is heavy - heavier sounding than the aforementioned studio albums - and I don't just mean that in terms of sound.  The band is tight, but play with more of a sullen swagger than on aforementioned the studio albums.  "Live in Koln" has all the hallmarks of a great metal band - a great band of ANY kind - with a world of talent, life experience and soul. THAT is what I mean by heavy.

In short.  Get this.

Here is The Obsessed live.
Here is the song "Field of Hours"  from their album "The Church Within".

Thanks for checking in.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I know that my first post came with absolutely no introduction or statement of purpose.  Sure, the description below the title indicates what my intentions are; writing about music, film and comics.  But, do not be surprised if you see posts regarding mixed martial arts, reviews of novels and whatever else happens to occupy the typically empty space between the two hearing-holes set on either side of my head.  

What you will not see is an overabundance of negativity.  I would rather spend my time writing about stuff I enjoy and possibly turn someone onto something cool.  That does not mean I won't be critical, its  just that many of my earliest attempts (during my tenure at the illustrious Crunchface) at writing were fairly negative and hostile.  Particularly, when it came to  my music reviews.  The language I used was coarse at best, and on more than one occasion, I should have been marched up to the bathroom to have my mouth washed out with soap.  Although, Clorox would have been more effective, but I digress.

That doesn't mean that I am, suddenly, some sort of linguistic puritan who is above swearing and giving my honest opinion - I will be critical.  I just think this space can be used for better things.  The internet is already filled with a load of uninformed opinions meant to illicit a reaction.  I've no interest in any of that bul...  nonsense.

For the most part I will be covering older music, older films...older stuff in general.  For those interested, I will review your stuff, but I will not deal with any downloading of music, e-books, e-comics, etc.  I don't have the space on my hard drive and I am generally not interested in digital media, save for films.  But, I don't anticipate any unsolicited submissions, so this is probably a non-issue.

Oh - really quick.  I will also be including the occasional interview.  However, the subjects will (for the most part) be folks from the Akron area and around NE Ohio. There might be an exception now and again, but unless Nick Cave calls or Mark Sandman rises from the grave to chat, I doubt you will see any deviations.

Yeah.  That's it for now.
Thanks for checking in.

Monday, February 18, 2013

End credits roll.

John McConnell and "The Legendary Crunchface Foundation"; for the pen-name and giving me me my first opportunity to communicate as well as the name of the blog you are currently reading.  It is borrowed and I will return it when I am finished.
Protein Supplement is a reference to a former vegetarian diet.  Any other potential references are purely coincidental and a product of your own imagination.

Again, thanks for checking in.

Negative Approach.  Good grief.  Where to start...

I was around 13 or 14 when I first heard them, but like most of the best hardcore-punk bands, they had long since passed on to other things by the time I first discovered them.  Being five to ten years too young to have experienced the first generation of hardcore punk bands all of the bands I had been introduced to by relatives and friends were either making horrible records or quit playing altogether.  The "Youth Crew" era was in full swing with images of the same jocks who wanted to hand me a beating for loving the Dead Boys emblazoned on the record covers of what was considered "hardcore" (sans punk).  Admittedly, some of the music on those same albums was great, but I found it incredibly difficult to relate to upper-middle class/rich white boys whose worldview which consisted of standing hard and backing your "crew".  And, I did buy into it to that "scene" to the extent that for a long time I didn't drink, tried my hand at vegetarianism (although for less than altruistic reasons-no one likes colon cancer) and was more than willing to get myself into stupid self-inflicted brawls.  However, I was a poor white trash with anger issues from the east side of Akron Ohio who was ultimately too much of snotty, smart-assed, misanthropic punk to invest that much into the Champion gear wearing set for more than a couple years.
John McConnell can tell you that as much as we liked Side By Side, Turning Point and the like, there was always the shadow of the Avengers, the aforementioned Dead Boys and the Dead Kennedys always looming about. 

 My perspective was greatly colored by my surroundings which was fraught with violence, drug abuse, alcoholism and the negative effects of Reaganomics.  As a young kid, I was fairly pissed and not good at expressing myself in a constructive manner.  I was not as smart as Jello, I was not good-looking like Penelope Houston and not as cool as Stiv.  It was difficult not to feel on the outside of a social group that supposedly consisted of outsiders.

Then I discovered Negative Approach.

On most summer days during the mid to late 80's my friends and I would trek from where we lived (a housing project across from the Arlington Plaza) all the way to Firestone Park. On other days we would catch a bus to downtown Akron to hit the ramps at an abandoned BF Goodrich factory.  Several skaters associated with the loose knit A.S.S. (Akron Skate Scene) had built a skate park of sorts on the third floor (or was it the fourth?) that could only be accessed from metal stairs from the backside of the building.  Back then, Downtown Akron was not the quasi-college town, night-life center it is now.  Due to the exodus of the rubber industry beginning as early as the late 1960's-early 1970's, Downtown (and Akron at large) had the appearance of a post-apocalyptic film set.  It was a bombed out and desolate place. The only reasons that you ever went downtown was to either go to the library, catch your transfer bus on the metro line, buy and/or deal drugs, or like any self-respecting punk rock kid, "Fuck shit up".  Mild hyperbole aside, Akron was not always such a pleasant place to grow up as it was a small city with some very big city problems.

 I never skated, but nearly all of my friends did as well as my kid brother Brent, who was an 11 year old phenom.  But despite not being a skater, I accompanied my friends and my brother on those excursions out of the sheer boredom that comes with an adolescence accompanied by near abject poverty.  Any excuse to escape the projects was a welcome one.  On nearly all of our trips to either The Park or BF I always had my boombox and a collection of cassettes for us to listen to throughout the day and Negative Approach was part of the soundtrack to at least a half dozen summers. 

(Negative Approach live - Akronites will note the 0DFX tag in the background)

One of those summers I was given a tape from an out of town cousin of a friend.  I forget his name, but he was visiting from somewhere out west when we were introduced.  He skated and therefore spent the better portion of the summer with us.  As a gift he dubbed a tape that he had brought with him and gave me a copy.  It was a black cassette with hastily scrawled band names on the cover.  There were no titles listed for any of the songs, just numbers, so I never new the names of the songs.  Of course back then there was no internet, none of this stuff could be found at any record stores in the malls, in magazines or anywhere.  One of the bands listed on the cover of the cassette was simply identified as "N.A.".  I found out a while later, after some investigating what the "NA" on the tape stood for -Negative Approach. The tape also had Die Kreuzen, Crucifucks, Necros, Mistfits and Black Flag.  I knew the Misfits and Black Flag, the others were new.  However, of all the bands, new or old, Negative Approach was the absolute best.

Of all the hardcore punk bands, none come close to articulating the frustration and hostility that I felt, quite like Negative Approach.  In spite of all of the anger emitted by the band, it was intelligent without being condescending as so many of the more politically inclined punk bands.  Yet, Negative Approach felt very urban, but without being a suburban gangster cliche characterized by so many of the stompy "noo yawk" hardcore bands
.  There was so much about what the band represented, on a purely visceral level, that I could relate to.  Sure a lot of hardcore punk bands sounded and were very angry.  None were as ferocious as Negative Approach.  

Negative Approach achieved their sound without dabbling in metal as so many of their peers (regrettably) chose to do later.  Rather, they looked to their hometown of Detroit, a rust belt, mid-western city decimated by the loss of the auto industry, much like my abandoned hometown.  Detroit was home, of course, to the Stooges and MC5.  The brutish quality of The Stooge's sound can be found in Negative Approach along with other more atypical elements such as blues.  John Brannon's howls can be seen a logical extension of Howling Wolf and the lyrics have an intensely emotional element seldom found in many early hardcore punk bands.  The only band I feel that comes close is maybe, Black Flag.  I sincerely wish I could have seen Negative Approach during the early hardcore era before they broke up initially in 1984.  Unfortunately, I was a mere eleven years old and would not hear them for the first time for another two to three years.
Negative Approach - rehearsal photo(?)

Negative Approach reunited in 2006 and they still play the occasional show, touring sporadically.  I caught them in Cleveland at Now That's Class shortly after.  Typically, with a few exceptions, I don't go for reunions.  They usually smack of a cash grab and I'm always afraid that reality will destroy my own romanticized notions of what a band was really like in a live setting.  But, I was not disappointed.  I may not have the context to judge them in light of their early performances, but I can say, by any measure, Negative Approach is a great live band.  They were loud, angry, tight and I was exhilarated. It immediately took me back to a time when I was much younger and held on tightly to the music that kept me sane.

I went to that show with my friend Josh and my fiancee who had no prior experience with Negative Approach.  She had seen Easy Action (John Brannon's current band, who are awesome in their own right) and enjoyed them, but they are a different animal from Negative Approach altogether.  To give her a frame of reference we listened to them on the way to the show, but she was completely underwhelmed.  She couldn't see why Josh and I were so excited to see this band.  I told her she was crazy and didn't know what she was talking about.  

After the show she told me that we were right, Negative Approach was and is awesome.

Okay.  My favorites?  Well, they did one 7" Ep and an Lp titled "Tied Down" during their first go around.  Both have been reissued in recent years by Touch & Go records.  I'm gonna have to say I favor the Lp because of the songs "Evacuate" and "Dead Stop".  There is also a compilation that Touch & Go put out a number of years ago that contain both the Ep and Lp on one Cd along with their track from the "Process of Elimination" compilation as well as a live set.  If you haven't heard them yet, as I am sure most of the people reading this have,  now is a good as anytime to check them out.

Thanks for checking in.