HOUSECORE RECORDS - Gems
LUCIFERIAN CHIMES, PHONE CALLS, BEDROOM DESTROYERS, MEDICINE NOOSES, AND FUNERAL HUSKS - A SHORT ESSAY ON A FEW HOUSECORE RECORDS GEMS
This particular article of mine is something that I have been thinking of doing for some time now. While it may strike some of you as being a weird thing to do, the whole point of this article is more or less to pay tribute to great music and express my fondness for a handful of albums that have all been released by Housecore Records. Why, I hear you ask? Well, the truth is that the albums listed below all mean something different to me on a personal level. Some are slightly more important to me than others, of course, but the cool thing is that some of my favorite Housecore releases are also totally different to one another. None of them sounds the same. That is one of several reasons why I love that label; you are never being served the exact same thing twice. We all know that Phil Anselmo loves all kinds of different genres and has a rather eclectic taste in music, which I think the rather diverse roster of Housecore Records proves. As I said, I have selected a handful of albums that I not only treasure, but also ones that were released at different points in time. They are but fragments of a much wider whole in that the aforementioned label has already released something akin to twenty albums since its inception, albums that vary greatly with respect to genre and style. Consider the ones listed below samples of a large musical smorgasbord of greatness and check them out at some point.
CHRIST INVERSION - "CHRIST INVERSION" (RELEASED OCTOBER 2008)
When I was in my teens, more specifically 15-16 years old, I was heavily into Pantera. Fucking big time! I went with my brother-in-law to their gig at KB Hallen in Copenhagen on the "Reinventing the Steel" tour, and from that day on everything changed. That particular show was one of those life-altering moments for me. I was just a kid, really. I barely had any hair on my dick and those zits of mine sure kept the ladies at bay, that's for damn sure. No, heavy metal was the answer and my prized possession. Anyway, through Pantera I started picking up on some of Phil Anselmo's different side projects and bands back then, namely Necrophagia, Eibon, and Viking Crown. As much as I dug those outfits just mentioned, I kept reading about this black/death metal outfit named Christ Inversion. That name really stuck with me. It sounded so delightfully inhumane and dark. Keep in mind that I was only sixteen, fuckbag! Anyway, there was very little info on the band out there on the web. They'd released two demos on tape, played a few gigs, and then pretty much disbanded. At least, that was what everybody said. I started hoping that those demos would someday see the light of day in the shape of a CD or LP release. For years and years, I was looking forward to the re-release of Christ Inversion's first demo, the one entitled "Obey the Will of Hell". I would constantly try to imagine how it would sound and, more importantly, how it would feel to listen to it. When vocalist Wayne Fabra reissued it in a limited quantity on CD in 2004 or 2005 and re-named it "To Lord Lucifer My Firstborn", I managed to snag a copy of it. When I received the CD that fateful summer of 2005, popped it in the CD player, and pressed play, I was utterly blown away by the music of Christ Inversion. I will never forget that. It gave me the chills. It was not merely sinister and creepy, but extremely memorable and moody as well. Charcoal black atmospheres enveloped me. Whenever people would ask me what it sounded like, I would use words and phrases such as "bombastic", "crushingly heavy", "sickening and morbid", and so on and so forth. I could not stop listening to the album. It was amazing. It was right up there with Hellhammer, Venom, and Bathory in my opinion, only way darker and more ominous. Even to this day, it still sounds as sinister and satanic as it did back then. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when Phil launched Housecore Records and released the whole thing properly in October 2008, which is to say with lyrics and artwork and all of that lovely stuff. The Housecore reissue of the demo only enhanced my whole experience of it and made me appreciate it even more. Some people think that the relentless black/death assault by Christ Inversion sounds dated, but I totally disagree. People forget that this was composed and recorded way back in 1993-1994 when many others were desperately trying to emulate Immortal, Burzum, Emperor, and Darkthrone. Christ Inversion was something else entirely. Like I said, it had much more in common with Celtic Frost, Hellhammer, and Venom, but with an otherworldly and oppressive vibe to it. The caustic and bitter vocals by Wayne Fabra, the catchy and horror-filled riffs by Phil Anselmo, and the melancholic and creepy keyboards by Ross Karpelman evoke images of satanic rituals, New Orleans cemeteries, voodoo, and pretty much everything else that makes life worth leaving, if you catch my drift. As to the album itself, it boasts such underrated classic tunes as the twisted and aggressive "Prudent to the Thrones of God", the claustrophobic and unsettling "Lucifer Rise", and the wicked and majestic "Chimes of Deafening Misery". If black metal and/or death metal gets your dick hard, you owe it to yourself and the fucking rest of us to check this album out. The reconfigured release by Housecore is simply entitled "Christ Inversion". If you want to see and experience what the big boys down south were doing back in the early 90s in terms of violent black/death metal, Christ Inversion is the answer. Like I said, it changed a lot of things for me back then and it hasn't lost an inch of relevance or importance to me over the years whatsoever. An underground classic for sure. You need this one!
THE SURSIKS - "I DIDN'T KNOW I WAS SINGING (RELEASED APRIL 2010)
While Christ Inversion meant (and still means) the world to me in terms of extreme metal, a strange outfit named The Sursiks released a rather peculiar album entitled "I didn't know I was singing" via Housecore in 2010. When I say peculiar, I mean that in a positive way. As I mentioned in the introduction, the thing with Housecore is that you are never really sure what you are going to get, but one thing that is certain is that nearly every release is something different and original. No two Housecore albums are the same, and you can bet your wrinkled ass that there is nothing like The Sursiks out there on today's market. Okay, I will be the first to admit that I only listen to this album whenever I feel slightly deranged and/or psychedelic, but it works wonders for my mind when I am feeling way the fuck out there. How to classify or describe the The Sursiks? Well, the band members have taken a whole bunch of recorded phone messages from answering machines and set them to music. The cool thing is that the music and phone messages are not merely slapped on top of each other. Nothing sounds fragmented or disjointed. It is as if everything is in sync somehow. I know, it sounds bizarre, but it works. What fascinates and intrigues me is that these phone messages display a whole range of different human emotions, which then colors the music and adds atmosphere to the whole thing. The music ranges from rock to ska and further on to lounge and hard rock, but it is impossible to classify or categorize "I didn't know I was singing". It is strange, wonderful, and unforgettable. Heck, it is even annoying at times, but in a charming way. If you are not in the mood for this kind of thing, it will drive you crazy, but try this out when you are feeling daring and open-minded. The musicianship is excellent and some of the "lyrics" have a pretty dark feel to them in places. This is both innovative and a total deconstruction of what one would expect from an album. Just listen to "Please Call Me!", "I`ll Be Guiding You", or "Hi Gary, this is Elanore" and tell me that those are not cleverly written and captivating. Immediate, spontaneous, and downright weird, The Sursiks truly posed a challenge the first few times I listened to it, but after a while I started treasuring this one. Unfortunately, I haven't really met anybody else who gets this or digs it, but maybe a few of you nut-bags out there will? Give it a shot the next time you are feeling deranged.
HAARP - "HUSKS" (RELEASED SEPTEMBER 2012)
The three-track album by haarp (they prefer the lower-cased h) entitled "Husks" instantly grabbed me the very first time I spun the disc. There was something about the funeral-like doom/sludge metal spawned by this depressed and depressive quartet. The melancholy that is present on this particular album was simply overwhelming and I just couldn't shake it. I kept coming back to it, usually late at night when I couldn't sleep. I would listen to it through my headphones and lose myself in it. In all honesty, the music of haarp is somewhat simple. Not necessarily minimalistic, but quite crude and stripped down in a sense. A lot of suckers out there often think of symphonic keyboards, gooey synthesizers, and female vocals when they hear the phrase funeral doom, but haarp is something else entirely. Raw and stripped down, haarp embodies the very essence of sludgy funeral doom metal in my opinion. The fact that it sounds so organic makes it all the more real and heartfelt. Crushing and heavy with a sense of desperation and despair running through it. While one could compare some of the riffs and ideas to Crowbar and Eyehategod, haarp is way harsher than Crowbar, but not as unpleasant and depraved as Eyehategod. Repetitive and monolithic riffs are the name of the game. Each song slowly builds up and intensifies as we go along, but it never becomes monotonous or tedious to listen to. Rather, the songs turn into these hypnotic and trance-like monsters that are bound to suffocate you, but I guarantee you that in some strange and perverted way you will love it. The desolate-looking cover suits the songs themselves perfectly. "Husks" is music for the wasteland, the no-one man's land that our deepest and darkest secrets occupy. Listening to the opening song, "Deadman/Rabbit", feels punishing, and vocalist Shaun Emmons sounds fucking malevolent on this track. Why did these guys drag me down into the deepest pit of hell, and why the fuck did I even stay there and listen to this album over and over? Well, when I listened to Emmons vomit forth poetic lines such as "Slowly but surely dust will conquer" and "Swords weave a canvas of madness" I just knew that there was no turning back. "Husks" was for me. It was my album. The thing is, if you listen to this enough times it will leave you feeling catatonically depressed. haarp will challenge you, but the charm of their thunderous sludge assault on your puny senses will win you over. You cannot deny the talent that is on display here. The huge open chords, the unbearable agony contained within the lyrics and melodies, the unpredictable twists and turns that occur, and the void-like stoner groove that occasionally slips into the mix, are all part of what makes "Husks" such a unique and stellar album. Authentic, brilliantly written, and relentless. "Husks" is somewhat akin to stepping on a piece of gum in the summer that just won't let go of your shoe. What I`m trying to say is that this one left its mark on me. Perhaps you should give it a go and see what it does to you, as long as you don't hold me responsible, that is.
PHIL ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS - "WALK THROUGH EXITS ONLY" (RELEASED JULY 2013)
I seem to remember that there was a lot of buzz and excitement surrounding the release of Phil's first proper solo album, the one entitled "Walk Through Exits Only", at least in Europe. What many probably hadn't anticipated was that it would have such an insane level of intensity and aggression to it. The opening song, "Music Media Is My Whore", was downright lethal, and from thereon out, the album just kept raging. Was it merely brutal, though? Don't be a dick! There was much more to it than that. There were so many nuances and rather subtle details and elements to be absorbed throughout that I for one kept listening to in order to make sure that I hadn't missed something. I do recall some of my lousy friends saying that they thought "Walk Through Exits Only" would be more accessible and catchy, and they kind of just gave up on it, but the more I listened to it the more it all fell into place and started making sense. Granted, some songs do sound a bit fragmented at first, but at the same time, they are so compelling that one keeps returning to them only to discover more. Trust me, it will all make sense eventually, you just have to give it time. I embraced "Betrayed" immediately. Such a dynamic and powerful song with brilliant lyrics to it. Actually, I could pretty much say that regarding the entire album as this set of lyrics are among the best that Anselmo has ever written. I kid you not! Heavy subjects are reflected on, but you can detect sarcasm and irony in many places, too. Read the lyrics to "Bedroom Destroyer" while listening to the tune and tell me that you are not blown away! "Walk Through Exits Only" is one of those unique and original pieces of work that keeps on giving. It covers so much ground both musically and lyrically that I have no fucking clue as to how I should categorize or define it, but isn't that a good thing? Everything from dissonant solos to inhumanly heavy breakdowns and further on to aggressive hardcore elements and thrashy riffs, "Walk Through Exits Only" is a fist in the face of conventional songwriting. Nothing displays this better than the epic title track. Contemplate the lyrics, listen intensely to the music, and devote every fiber in your body to this magnificent album. You won't regret it!
EYEHATEGOD - "EYEHATEGOD" (RELEASED MAY 2014)
The lords of sludge metal and all that is foul and depressive! I dare say that most of you have either listened to Eyehategod at some point or at least heard about the band. They are the reigning kings of grimy and nerve wrecking southern metal. No one and nothing sound like this band. That's just fact, kiddies. What made the self-titled album quite special was that many of us had been anxiously awaiting a follow-up to its predecessor, "Confederacy of Ruined Lives", which was released all the way back in 2000. That's 14 years for those of you who suck at math. Different EPs, compilations, live videos, and so on were released in the meantime, but still, what we all wanted and craved was a brand new full-length assault by these guys. Did it live up to my expectations? Most definitely! When I reviewed it around the time that it was released, I wrote that
The album contains 11 awesome tunes that will appeal to all you sick, twisted, and depressed fucks out there. As a whole, the album is intense, organic, and dynamic, and all the EHG trademarks are present. The riffs are somewhat simple and memorable and yet strangely dissonant at times. The vocals, courtesy of Mike Williams, sound better and more potent than ever. The band is tight, the songs are well written and cohesive, and there is a lot of atmosphere to this record. The screeching guitar feedback and the somewhat unsettling vibe present in and around EHG is totally there and intact. I am not going to analyze and dissect every song off the album, but let me just point out that I consider "Worthless Rescue" and "Medicine Noose" some of the best damn songs ever written by the band, period.
As I am writing this piece and listening to the album, it struck me just how strong it is in terms of its enduring and timeless quality. It even gets better with time. When I reviewed it I had no access to anything but the mp3 files, so it was a treat to receive a proper copy of the CD with the great artwork and a few bits of depressing lyrics included. As with the Christ Inversion disc, it enhanced my whole listening experience of "Eyehategod". There's something wonderful about holding a CD or LP between one's hands and studying it, don't you think? A song such as "Parish Motel Sickness" became even more intense, overpowering, and forceful somehow when I was listening to it while holding the album between my sweaty palms. The poetry by vocalist Mike William that graces the album is amazing and worthy of praise in and of itself. Everything about this album oozes quality. How can one not love it? I'll be the first to admit that I mostly listen to the album when I'm in a foul mood, but given that I quite often am a moody prick to be around, "Eyehategod" finds its way to the record player on a regular basis. There's something about that oppressive and morose southern atmosphere of the album that gets to me every time. For instance, whenever I listen to "Nobody Told Me" and "Worthless Rescue" all these crappy old memories of some very bad experiences wash over me, but that is actually one of the reasons why I cherish this album so much; it serves as an exorcism and catharsis for me. There are certain things in life that cannot be properly expressed or put into words, and this album is one of them while at the same time contextualizing things that are either hard to swallow or difficult to grasp, at least to me. If you think your life is crap, do not listen to this album, as it will only confirm the fact that you are indeed a self-loathing loser. Glorious stuff!
25.04.2017 Full album stream: NEKROPTIKON - When the Plague Breaks Out
25.04.2017 New song: CARACH ANGREN - Charlie
24.04.2017 Full album stream: DEPENDENTIUM - Itsetuhan Alkeet
21.04.2017 New song: SUNKEN - Departure
20.04.2017 Full album stream: THE PROJECTIONIST - Exalted Solitude
20.04.2017 New song: MERRIMACK - The Falsified Son
03.04.2017 GJENDØD - Descending Into Cold Fires
19.03.2017 KARMØYGEDDON 2017
04.03.2017 INFERNO 2017
16.01.2017 BLASTFEST 2017
04.09.2016 EDGE: NORDIC 2016
29.08.2016 SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT 2016
27.08.2016 DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT - Transcendence
25.08.2016 BRYNEROCKEN 2016
15.08.2016 THIN LIZZY - The Renegade Angel
03.08.2016 SUMMER BREEZE 2016
01.08.2016 BRUTAL ASSAULT 2016
24.07.2016 PARTY SAN OPEN AIR 2016
19.07.2016 WACKEN OPEN AIR 2016
15.07.2016 MALAKOFF 2016
06.07.2016 OBSCENE EXTREME 2016
05.07.2016 HOUSECORE RECORDS - Gems
03.07.2016 EISTNAFLUG 2016
30.06.2016 ANTHRAX klar for Norgesturne
26.06.2016 TUSKA OPEN AIR 2016
23.06.2016 ROSKILDE 2016
20.06.2016 NORWAY ROCK 2016
14.06.2016 HELLFEST 2016
13.06.2016 BERGENFEST 2016
09.06.2016 GOJIRA - Magma