Melt-Banana’s joyful noise.

035It’s been a few weeks since I saw Melt-Banana at Harlow’s, and for some reason I just can’t get their set out of my mind.  Part of this is no doubt due to the fact that I actually got to see Melt-Banana; sure, they’ve toured the states many times, but keep in mind that I was living in the middle of Iowa up until a year ago, not exactly a hotbed for extreme and/or experimental music.  Since we’ve moved to Sacramento, I’ve already had the pleasure of seeing a handful of bands I never imagined I’d get the opportunity to see without traveling great distances (Sargeist and Ufomammut immediately spring to mind), and the Japanese duo are probably number one on the “holy shit, I can’t believe they’re actually playing where I live” list so far.

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Napalm Death – Apex Predator – Easy Meat (Century Media, 2015)

Napalm-Death-Apex-Predator-Easy-MeatHow good is the new Napalm Death death album?  Against all odds, this band continues to age like a fine wine, and Apex Predator – Easy Meat continues the unfuckwithable fifteen-years-and-counting roll they’ve been on since 2000’s Enemy of the Music Business.  I pretty much said everything I have to say about the band’s late-career renaissance in my review of 2012’s Utilitarian, but it’d be downright shameful if I neglected to spill at least a little bit of digital ink on the stunning piece of work they’ve unleashed in 2015.

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THKD’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2014 that I didn’t write about.

THKD2014In early December, I decided I wasn’t going to do a year end list.  It isn’t that I’m all of the sudden anti-list; I still love lists, but this year I just wasn’t feeling it.  I gotta be honest, after five years of doing THKD I’m fucking weary, and laboring over a list just felt like yet another metal writing chore.  Besides, if you read the blog regularly and follow me on social media, you already know what I liked this year.

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Human Bodies – No Life (Caligari Records, 2014)

a3067155656_10Caligari Records has only been active since 2013, but in that time the label has released an ungodly slew of excellent metal with no allegiance to any particular subgenre.  Indeed, the only thread that seems to tie Caligari’s releases together is an ear for quality, and that quality continues to run over the cassette label competition, this time in the form of No Life, the second demo (first EP?) from Boston black metal bruisers Human Bodies.

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Full of Hell & Merzbow – s/t (Profound Lore, 2014)

a2883873483_10Few bands have captured my attention in 2014 quite like Full of Hell.  I had the pleasure of witnessing the quartet’s devastating, show-stealing live set back in August and was blown away by their combination of relentless intensity and determination to push the envelope of grind/hardcore deep into the realms of harsh noise.  It was like someone had thrown Jane Doe-era Converge in a blender with Release Records-era Merzbow and set that motherfucker to liquefy; easily one of the most simultaneously challenging and exhilarating live experiences ever.  Needless to say, when I caught wind of the announcement that they had signed a deal with Profound Lore and their debut for the venerable label would be a collaboration with the aforementioned Japanese God of Noise himself, anticipation was through the roof and then some.

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Dropdead / Full of Hell / Noisem / Plague Widow / RAD @ Midtown Barfly, Sacramento, CA 08/24/14

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My second show in Sacramento was in some ways a throwback to my younger years in Des Moines; I used to walk down to Hairy Mary’s by myself to see shows because my sorry ass didn’t have a car and to make matters worse I didn’t know anyone else who gave a shit about the underground.  Not being much of a grindcore fan, my wife decided to sit out Sunday’s matinee at the Midtown Barfly, and as a result I found myself flying solo once again, which is always a delightfully awkward experience given that I’m not exactly the most outgoing person out there.  Also, many of those shows I hoofed it to back in the day were heavy on grindcore bands such as Black Market Fetus, Strong Intention, Catheter, Entrails Massacre and Phobia, to name but a few, so I was excited to experience a show in a similar vein in my new city.  A complete and utter lack of social skills doesn’t matter much when you’re being pummeled at a million miles an hour by some of the most vicious and unrelenting music out there.

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