“Fast Forward To Hell…….” Compilation (1987)

fastforwardtohellFast Forward To Hell……. is a 1987 label comp from Metalworks featuring thrash and speed metal bands from England and Germany.  Seven bands, ten songs, and a whole lot of speed and power.  High points include Angel Dust’s “Legions of Destruction” and Necronomicon’s “Possessed By Evil”.  The recording quality is variable – a few tracks sound more like demos that were recorded in someone’s practice space, though most are at least adequate.

I’ll definitely be on the lookout for albums by these German bands when I’m in Berlin this summer.  Looks like most of the Germans have had their 1980s albums re-released in the last few years, so while I’ll try for OG pressings it looks like I should have some luck one way or the other.

Genöcide – “Submit To Genöcide” (1987)

Things were kind of weird in the 1980s.  Stuff that seemed so extreme then is so banal now, often coming across like you’re sadly trying too hard and failing.  I suppose this has always been true, be it the sexuality perceived in young Elvis’ hips in the 1950s the shock value of the rare bit of lyrical profanity in the 1970s.  It was probably true in ancient times too; “They fell for a big wooden horse?  That would never work today!”  So the 1980s were really no different  In 1987 Submit To Genöcide songs like “12:00 And All Is Hell”, “Manson Youth”, and “Live To Fuck – Fuck To Live” would have had teenaged eyes opening wide at the sheer extremity and audacity of their titles, but today they’re more likely to elicit a smirk and a chuckle.  Some things hold up.  Some do not.  Such is life.

submittogenocide

Musically Submit To Genöcide falls square into the metal/punk crossover thing that was happening at the time, and frankly it still sounds pretty killer to my ears, though quite probably because that’s what was happening in music when I was a teen.  The guitars are more metal and thrash, the rhythm and vocals more punk, a bit like DRI.  Some songs lean more towards metal (“Predator”) and others are more punk (“Sociopath”), but all-in-all it’s some solid stuff.  I would have absolutely loved this if I’d come across it when I was in high school, and as long as I don’t pay too much attention to some of the more ridiculous lyrics I think this will get more spins whenever the thrash mood strikes me.

bobbyebz

Vocalist Bobby Ebz (right) lived life hard.  An associate (some say friend, some say hanger-on) of GG Allin, Ebz was actually with the notorious Allin at one point on the day GG died of a drug overdose.  And like Allin, he too died young.  I couldn’t find a birth date for Ebz, but his first album with Genöcide came out in 1982 and he passed away in 2001 (possibly of hepatitis), so best guess is he was maybe around 40 or so.  According to those that knew him, the way Bobby dressed and behaved wasn’t an act – he lived that way 24/7.  And that, my friends, is a candle that burns hot.  RIP Bobby.

 

“Tito Nikada Više!” (1992) Compilation

titonikadaAs crazy it it seems to me, this is, as near as I can tell, the fifth time I’ve written about a Yugoslavian band or release.  Go figure.  A few months back I blogged about Azra’s live triple-album Ravno Do Dna and talked a bit about the country’s history under dictator Tito, and one of the things we learned is Tito was OK with rock and punk so long as it didn’t directly talk crap about him.  Well, by 1992 he’d been dead for over a decade and many didn’t view his reign through rose-colored glasses any more, hence Tito Nikada Više!, which translates to “Tito Never More”.

The comp includes 16 songs from nine bands, and stylistically most of it falls into either the hardcore or thrash camps.  The insert provides lyrics to all the tracks, maybe half of which are in English.  Much of it is overtly political with songs like “Citizen’ Choice”, “National Conflict”, and “Madman”, but we’re also treated to some more apolitical fare like the aptly named “Skate or Die”.  The recording is a bit flat, but not so much so that it detracts from your enjoyment – it sounds like half the tapes I had back in the 80s.  The bands themselves sound good, a bit raw and unpolished, but not in an amateurish way.  Particular props to Ekstremisti and their two tracks.

I’d like to know how this ended up in a record store in Denver, but alas that’s something that will have to remain a mystery.  If you can get your hands on a copy, I definitely recommend it.

Dresden – “Too Many Skeletons” (1986)

dresdenskeletonsNeedless to say it was the cover of Dresden’s sole release, 1986s Too Many Skeletons, that initially drew my attention.  It’s got a sort of Motörhead thing going on, but with garish reds, blues, and yellows.  The combination of images and words on the cover (bombers, eagle, “Dresden”, and “Too Many Skeletons”) make it pretty apparent that the band got its name and the concept for this album cover from the 1945 firebombing of Dresden, part of the so-called “strategic bombing” campaign conducted by the Allies in World War II, the morality of which has been questioned by historians and ethicists for decades.

Over the course of three days in February 1945 a total of 1,249 American and British heavy bombers dropped 7.8 million pounds of bombs on the city of Dresden.  Let that number sink in for a minute.  7.8 million pounds of explosives, falling from the sky, onto your city.  So much heat and fire was generated that a literal firestorm occurred which destroyed most of the city and killed 20-25,000 people.  The Dresden bombing may be the best known of these events, at least in Europe, because a young America prisoner of war named Kurt Vonnegut was being held in the city and after the bombing was over he and other POWs were directed to help gather the corpses.  He later, of course, became a world-renowned author, and his novel Slaughterhouse Five drew in part from his experiences in Dresden.  I know that’s a bit of a heavy history lesson, but most of us have seen so much of this kind of imagery that we fail to consider it in its historical, and more importantly human, context.

A number of writers at The Metal Archives have already tackled Too Many Skeletons and have done so far better than I can from a musical perspective, so you can check them out HERE if you’re interested.  I will say that the recording is flat and leans more towards the high end – the bass and drums get lost apart from perhaps the cymbals, which is too bad, because the drumming is pretty good.  And lest you think that Disturbed were the first metal-type band to take on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence”, well, you’d be wrong, because it’s the last song on the A side of Too Many Skeletons.  Dresden’s version alternates between slow and fast, a bit less cohesive than Disturbed’s, but also a bit less full of itself; it isn’t trying too hard to be artistic, just authentic.

The various reviews of Too Many Skeletons put it into the “cross-over” camp, in this case meaning the crossover from thrash to hardcore.  This makes sense to my ears, with Dresden reminding me a bit of Gang Green and Cro-Mags.  A little digging into the guys involved in Dresden further backs this us, as three of the five members were also part of the somewhat prolific hardcore outfit Lost Generation, and another was part of C.I.A.  So it appears Dresden was a more metal-leaning side project for these guys.  It’s a pretty good one (other than the production quality) – too bad they didn’t keep moving in the thrash direction.

You can check out the whole thing on YouTube:

Wehrmacht – “Biērmächt” (1988)

I’ve written before about my group of high school friends and about how during most of our senior year we hung out at John’s house.  We hung out there because he shared the house with his older brother Dave, and it was just the two of them, their mom having taken a job overseas for a few years.  We listened to music, skated the backyard halfpipe, and did the normal teenage guy stuff.

Sometimes Dave would open his bedroom window and put one of his big Cerwin-Vega speakers on the sill, pointed outside, and blast music bound to piss off the neighbors – Butthole Surfers, Motörhead, what have you.  I remember pulling into the driveway one afternoon, getting out of my car, and being serenaded by Dave’s speaker playing Wehrmacht’s “Suck My Dick”.

That was my introduction to Wehrmacht.

Wehrmacht’s 1989 Biērmächt album quickly became a favorite for us.  I managed to find a cassette copy, though never one on vinyl, and songs like “Suck My Dick” and “Drink Jack” quickly became part of the regular rotation, as did the absurd trilogy “Everb,” “E…!,” and “Micro-E!,” three songs with a combined run time of somewhere around 5 seconds. Wehrmacht’s blend of thrash and hardcore was something we hadn’t heard before, plus they sang about beer and Jack, so that was plus as well.

wehrmachtbiermacht

Most of the songs on Biērmächt incorporate one of two themes – violence and alcohol.  They don’t praise violence, but it does feature prominently.  They do, however, praise beer and drinking in songs like “Drink Beer and Be Free,” “Beermacht,” and the appropriately named “Drink Jack,” a brief song whose only lyrics are, in fact, Drink Jack.  “Munchies” is more about food than alcohol, though beer does make a brief appearance there as well (If you don’t have beer / We’ll gladly drink your pop).  “Suck My Dick” breaks the mold in that it’s basically a song that just tells the world what it can do, and the “E” song trifecta is just nothing but the letter “E,” quite literally, making it quite possibly the most intriguing part of the album.

Musically Biērmächt is some pretty decent thrash, with songs played at a blistering pace.  It also doesn’t take itself too seriously which is refreshing sometimes, especially in this genre.

As soon as I saw this clean original pressing at Seattle’s newest used vinyl mecca, Daybreak Records, I knew I had to have it.  Holly rolled her eyes, but there are just too many memories tied to this album, and since I no longer have that tape nor a copy on CD, I felt kind of justified in buying it.  When you’re a vinyl junkie you get used to making up reasons to justify your purchases.  If you track down an OG pressing, make sure to check inside for the one sheet lyric/photo insert.  And if you’re a mega-Wehrmacht fan, there’s also the The Complete Beer-Soaked Collection 1985-1989 box set that includes five records and two CDs.  I have to admit I almost bought this a while back due to my frustration at not being able to find a clean copy of Biērmächt, plus the fact that it includes a live show from the town I actually live in, but I couldn’t justify the $80 price tag to myself.

Glad to finally have this one on the turntable.