About Administrator

I live in the Seattle area and love searching out new and interesting music.

“N.W. Metalworx Vol. 2 – Lake Hills Revisited” Compilation (2019)

N.W. Metalworx is doing god’s work in keeping the history of northwest metal alive by reissuing lost classics by hard rock and metal bands that, while popular locally, never quite made it to the big time.  I can’t wait for their forthcoming book Rusted Metal: A Guide To Heavy Metal and Hard Rock Music in the Pacific Northwest (1970 – 1995) for even more NW metal goodness.  I’ve picked up few of their releases and follow them on Facebook, so it wasn’t a surprise to learn that they were putting out a new NW metal compilation.  What was surprising, however, was the connection to Lake Hills.

Lake.  Hills.

My parents moved quite a bit while I was in grade school, and that included three different periods of living in Issaquah, which during the 1970s and early 1980s was a one-traffic-light kind of small town on the other side of the lake from Seattle.  And we didn’t even live in Issaquah proper, but instead on what was known as “The Plateau”, which is now the city of Sammamish and full of ridiculously expensive houses.  We sometimes went to Lake Sammamish State Park in the summer, the same park where Ted Bundy picked up some of his early victims.  There’s something about the northwest that seems to breed serial killers.  Maybe it’s the dark, rainy, gloomy winters.  I don’t know.  But I digress.  What does any of this have to do with the Lake Hills neighborhood of the city of Bellevue?  Well, I went to grade school in Lake Hills.

I spent a fair amount of time in Lake Hills, both at school and sleepovers with friends who lived there.  We’d walk to the K-Mart, play video games at the pizza place, shoot BB guns in the woods, and sometimes make it over to Crossroads Mall, alongside of which was the Lake Hills Roller Rink, a combo roller skating rink/music venue that hosted a ton of hard rock shows.  We were too young at that point to be interested in the rocking happening there.  Did I ever go roller skating at the rink, though?  I feel like I probably did… but honestly can’t remember.  And I never did see a show there.  But the idea of an album that orbits around local bands that played in Lake Hills still feels awfully close to home.

Will you know any of these bands if you’re not from the Northwest?  Maybe TKO and Rail… but after that I’m not sure.  Hell, most of them I didn’t discover until the last few years, bands like Q5 and Wild Dogs who have made appearances on the blog.  I know of some of the others, mostly due to the good works of the guys at N.W. Metalworx and the 1984 Northwest Metalfest compilation that includes four of the bands on Lake Hills Revisited.  Regardless of whether or not you’ve heard of any of these guys, if you’re into the early 80s style of hard rock/metal you’re going to find things you like here with ten bands and a combination of live and studio tracks.

lakehillsrevisited

N.W. Metalworx Vol. 2 – Lake Hills Revisited opens with the painfully overlooked Q5 doing a live in-studio performance (from KZOK) of “Missing In Action”.  It’s the perfect way to kick things off, with one of the region’s best bands doing one of their best songs.  I’m also partial to the other side A live track, Overlord’s “Had Enough”, which while slightly flat in terms of recording quality is another burner.  The flip side opens with the one number actually recorded live at the Lake Hills Roller Rink, Rail’s “Gangbusters” from 1979, and it’s one of the best sounding songs on the record – it’s almost hard to believe it was live given how tight the band sounds.  “Dehumanize Me” by Bondage boys is the most intriguing tune, one leaning towards a more morose style of heavy, a little post-punk but also a bit of slower metal.

In addition to the kick-ass music, N.W. Metalworx provides some solid liner notes both by the label team and from Craig Cooke who used to book bands at the venue.  You can also learn a bit more about the Lake Hills Roller Rink HERE in an article written by Howard Monta, who’s family operated it for decades.  It includes a list of band who played there over the years, and some of them will be familiar to you if you’re a rock fan – Heart, Iron Maiden (!), The Lovin’ Spoonful, Moby Grape, the Sonics… a fair amount of talent made the trek across the lake to little ol’ Lake Hills.

There are three versions of N.W. Metalworx Vol. 2 – Lake Hills Revisited available – CD, black vinyl in an edition of 400, and splatter vinyl in a hand-numbered edition of 100.  All of them are still available through the label’s website HERE, so check ’em out.  I splurged on the splatter vinyl and it both looks and plays great.  In fact I’ve been impressed with everything N.W. Metalworx has put out – they make sure the product is always high quality.

Serial Killers – “Roadside Rendezvous” (1987)

serialkillersIf Gang Green sang about murder instead of skating and drinking, they would be the Serial Killers.

This found its way into my hands the other day when I was digging with my friend Travis.  He found it in the Misc S section and was intrigued… but not $10 worth.  I, on the other hand, was up to a roll of the vinyl dice, which is how I found myself listening to “Graveyard Serenade” and thinking, huh, this is a bit like Alice Cooper fronting early Sabbath.  That heaviness didn’t last past the first track though, and things moved into a more basic fast rock format.  Musically it’s enjoyable, falling into that weird ’80s middle ground that is sort of rock and sort of metal and sort of punk, but not easily landing in any one camp.  With titles like “The Illegitimate Son of Ed Gein”, “Teenage Bloodlust”, and “Dead Bitch” it’s a bit hard to take seriously, especially in this decade and, quite frankly, at my current age.  As a 40+ year old dude listening to this today it feels like something I probably would have been into during my teens in 1987, but now it’s a bit much.  I kill to satisfy my teenage bloodlust / Only doing what I feel I must.  That being said, if I don’t pay attention to the words it’s a fun listen.

Coil – “Another Brown World / Baby Food” (2017)

coilbrownworldClearly the date of this release is not indicative of when the music was composed given that both members of Coil passed away years ago, John Balance in 2004 and Peter Christopherson in 2010.  Both of these 12+ minute tracks appeared previously contemporary to their creation, “Another Brown World” in 1989 and “Baby Food” in 1993. I’m not precisely sure why Sub Rosa Label chose these two to be part of this release, though I have to give them credit because the pair compliment one another well.  Both are chill electro goodness with a subtle undercurrent of darkness.  Not industrial per se, though still conveying a slight sense of potential danger without being anxiety-inducing – you can sit back with your eyes closed and let the slowly wash over you like a subtly advancing tide.

Both tracks can be heard HERE on the label’s Bandcamp page.  You can also buy the limited edition marbled vinyl, though I’m perfectly happy with my black version which was half the price and sounds clean as can be.

Planet P Project – “Planet P Project” (1983)

planetpThis was more or less a solo project of Tony Carey.  Following a few years playing keyboards for Rainbow, Carey found himself adrift when the label putting out his solo work, Rocshire, was shut down by the feds due to some shady money-handling practices.  Carey signed two separate deals with Geffen, one for his third solo album Some Tough City and the other for his new concept, Planet P Project.  Ironically Some Tough City came out a year after Planet P Project.  He put out two albums in the early 1980s under the Planet P Project monicker, later returning to it for the Go Out Dancing trilogy in the mid-to-late 2000s.  Planet P is said to be a reference to a planet in Robert Heinlein’s novel Starship Troopers, a forward base of the nemesis Arachnids.

Musically Planet P Project is synth-pop tinged with just a dash of prog.  “Why Me?” popped up for air, making it to #64 on the Billboard Hot 100 and a small splash on MTV with it’s “Major Tom”-esque theme, sounding like the soundtrack to the training sequence in some kind of 1980s movie about space exploration.  A bit dated, to be sure, but with 80s-style synths making a comeback it has a retro-contemporary vibe.  Interesting, probably most appealing to fans of the era.

Psychoplasmics – “Psychoplasmics” (2018)

I’m floating on an inner tube on a languidly flowing river of codeine-infused cough syrup, thick and purple and with the consistency of used motor oil, the cliffs on either side made up of massive, slowly melting gum drops in a wide range of vivid colors.  The sky is bright green with wisps of neon-blue clouds and I’m being circled by a rather bored looking vulture.  Everything is thick and sticky, the air taking on an almost physical form wrapping itself over everything like a thin layer of cellophane.  And I just keep drifting, slowly, towards nothing in particular.

That’s what Psychoplasmics feels like.

psychoplasmics

The collaboration between Lord Pusswhip and Alfreð Drexler is at times like a house version of the typical Pusswhip fare, as much as any of his highness’ music can be called typical, with tracks like “De Pijp” and “Dolphin’s Delight” putting the listener into a full-on groove trance.  Samples feel distorted, either slowed down or sped up or somehow magically both at the same time, laid over the top of the beats like a heavy blanket, the kind of thing that makes you wonder if something’s wrong with your turntable (tip –> there’s not) or maybe even your brain (there might be).  A number of guests join Psychoplasmics on their sticky journey ensuring the rapping comes to us in a range of styles, from the intentional seeming indifference of TY on “Kriminelt” to Birnir’s smooth flow on “Gullhamrar”.  Killer stuff from start to finish.

The vinyl was initially pressed (♠) in a hyper-limited edition of 20 copies, but subsequently the guys had some additional copies produced which is how I was able to get my hands on one.  I messaged them on Facebook to buy my copy, so if you’re interested that’s probably your best bet at the moment.  But have no fear my friends, because you can chill out to all ten tracks on Soundcloud HERE.  Just don’t operate heavy machinery while under the influence of Psychoplasmics.  Use only as directed.

(♠)  Technically not pressed, as I believe these are individually lathe cut one at a time.