Cassette Assault! No Visible Scars

It's a.....cassette assault!  That's a new thing for us around here.  We get a bunch of cassettes from a single label, or band, and we have at it, firing that beautiful celluloid like so many bullets, filling your corpse with the notations of sweet, hissing tape through a blown-speaker Magnavox.  Take it like a champ!  So it's real simple, we get a sampling of tapes, we throw them at you like shuriken.  Hell, nah, that's not freak beast enough, we throw them at you like the spiked balls on a morning star.  Nah, not even that, we throw the whole morning star at you, at least five at once, or as many as we can fit in our hands.  Imagine that's cassette tapes filled with metal, and this is what you get.  Take it on your knees!

No Visible Scars is an awesome underground micro label from out of Connecticut that supposedly releases stuff on vinyl and CD, but really has more of a focus on the old tape culture of the 80s and 90s since that's all he's released.  Back in those glory days you swapped tapes, copied tapes, got Nunslaughter from Mexico on bootleg cassette with God-awful photocopied art, and this label seeks to embody the beauty of it all.  And they've got it, pretty much.  The sampling here consists of four very different releases, which we'll consider from the worst to best.  Before we begin, let's state it outright, we may not have liked all of these completely, but you should take a second to check out this underground beauty, like them on Facebook, and appreciate what they're doing.  Micro tape labels are cool, no make that kewl.  Now let's puke out the appetizer before we excrete the desserts.

 

Slumber Room: S/T EP

Yeah, this one.  Slumber Room is two dudes that look completely nihilist about everything, including maybe writing music, and probably where they sleep.  For the number of evil acts they come from, such as Thy Infernal, you expect hellfire, but it's quite anemic.  It taps its arm against a wall and blood's spraying everywhere, but not in a cool way.  Playing a form of blackened, ambient industrial, this S/T opens with tranquil acoustic depression that sets an engorging tone.  "Some One...Everyone...No One..." then changes the approach with the most basic of tech beats, coupling it with mechanical guitars that derive a pretty hefty, and depressing, riff.  The singing has that black metal rasp, but it's combined with distorted presence like Leæther Strip.  From there they dip into another acoustic piece with a piano that sounds like it was covered in years of rain in an abandoned asylum (that's a good thing).  Then it's back to the tech, but it never really achieves the same beauty as before.  The main reason is easy to explain; there's simply no visible connection between the two styles.  The vocals do their distorted thing, the drums keep a basic focus, and the guitars go from fragile to acoustic but never develop the kind of festering hate you need.  Overlayed, singular riff-lines draw most of the emotion away, simply because it's basically Burzum-worship with a drum machine.  Let's be real, Burzum's overrated.  Forced simplicity often just sounds like the band in question lacks the ability to create.  We've had better bands of this ilk around here,  Sujo for example.  Score: 3 / 5

 

Earthlord: Earthmission

This sweet, little puppy comes in beautiful, green plastique cassingle form.  Oh yes, the look of the cassingle, the feel of it, the beauty of the automatic switch from one side to the next, give it to us.  Well, no switch here, you have to flip it, but whatever.  Earthlord consists of members of Hour of 13 as well as a ton of other ill-fated, forgotten metal acts from way back as far as 1981.  Simply put, there's a lot of history in the guys that came together for this ill-fated band.  How ill-fated?  So ill-fated they only had a single ill-fated split planned, with two songs completed, and this is the first time in history they've seen the ill-fated light.  What can we find?  Well, heavy space power metal would suffice.  The sound of Earthmission is extremely reminiscent of 80s and 90s power metal, though more reserved.  First track, pretty tame, undercurrent doom, that cold blast on the bottom of the river after you take a dip into its warmth.  The second track, however, is where this plastic lust goddess pleases.  "He Who is of the Water" is a splendid lapse into the "what if they came back" dream ocean the most ruminating of us engage in when we come across something like this.  It has a haunting, cultish sound, which combined with the clean, yet almost priest-at-the-altar vocals, makes for an awesome fantasy.  Score: 3.5 / 5

 

Scorched-Earth: Marauders

Uh oh, here we go.  Right when this beautiful, sparkling blue cassingle is tossed in the deck you know what's coming.  From the first few moments the essence of Bathory begins to exude from the speakers, it covers the room in darkness as the doom-infused opener closes, and then, oh yes, that sweet blackened thrash coats your skin like charcoal at a sacrificial fire.  Once they're going, they're going, and they're all over you.  However, Scorched-Earth play some pretty typical blackened thrash here, the chords aren't anything new, but they're exactly what you expect.  Dirty as all Hell, scum flipping off of everything, picked up off their boots from trampling one too many heads in the mud.  The only complaint would be this.  The vocals have a tendency to lose their throat a few times, almost as though the singer ran out of air or his lungs lacked enough capacity to continue to wail like he must wail.  It's only slight, and rarely occurs, but it's noticeable.  This, however, is quickly overcome by an awesome Scepter cover at the end.  Flip it over, start all over again, it's a continuous thrashterpiece.  Well, that's probably an exaggeration, but Marauders has a perfect rise and fall.  It dooms you awake, it thrashes you for lunch, and it covers you to sleep.  Score: 3.5 / 5

 

Satanic Dystopia: Double Denim Shotgun Massacre

There was no way this was going to be bad as soon as we read the title.  A thrash metal band from England?  Any day, sure.  And wait a second, this is only their debut?  It can't be true!  Satanic Dystopia, for being a band that just exited the womb, are going to birth titans if they keep it up.  There's a sense of humor to their approach, combined with raw, crushing thrash.  You get a sense from this that these dudes have watched a ton of old horror flicks, probably with a couple forgotten post-apocalyptic freak fests to keep it spicy.  It's easy to imagine this sitting on the same shelf of the VHS shop as Blood Feast or Torso, right in the middle there, because it's practically the same size and it'd make a great soundtrack for both of them.  Double Denim Shotgun Massacre takes the soul of thrash and makes it a thing of the denim.  It turns it into your next battle jacket, complete with the most elite of patches.  The riff action here is consistent enough to keep your attention on every track.  "Blood, Spit, & Concrete" gives a great sense of what these guys are about, if you're looking for a quick sample.  The whole thing starts by pounding a hammer into your head, and by the time it's done scarcely a pinky toenail remains.  The only complaint is that the vocals, at times, lack that true anger of awesome thrash, there's a little too much focus on direct mouth as opposed to development of the sound from his guttural depths.  Still, great release overall, and clever band name, by the way.  Score: 4.5 / 5

 

Written by Stanley Stepanic