Friday, May 31, 2013


We all suffer from demons of defilement at some point. I won’t pretend to totally understand the ins, outs, and what-have-yous of the Kilesa Mara mentioned in Buddhism, but they seem to represent the factors that delude us and cloud our minds, like greed and ignorance. Kylesa were named after some of these strong forces, but after listening to their newest album Ultraviolet I don’t think the music is suffering from any of these “mind poisons.” This is a daring, expansive album building from their psychedelic crunch and double-drummer pummel , full of large ideas and progressive melodies. Unfortunately, with great experimentation comes a varying degree of success. Still, you can’t make progress through the forest without stepping into a few ditches and bear traps along the way.

The familiar sludgy Savannah stomp roars from the opening seconds on “Exhale,” featuring the best tandem vocal work on the album as Laura Pleasants and Phillip Cope trade barbed lyrics with venom and conviction. The song feels like riding red waves on a splinter of driftwood, surrounded by sharks and figuring out how you’re going to kill all these finned bastards with the guitar on your back as your only weapon. Opening with the most vicious song on the album may make what follows slightly disarming for those seeking more of the same mud and blood. But clearly those listeners weren’t paying enough attention to the moments of light in Spiral Shadow, because those seeds of melody have blossomed here, an album later. Sure, there’s the massive stoner riffs of “Grounded” and the excellent bong-blitzed burner “Vulture’s Landing,” but most of the album is more pensive, brooding, and eases forward with entrancing rhythm and nearly oxymoronic bright melodies that paint the black’n’gray sky with strokes of turquoise and (ultra)violet.

Some of these songs work beautifully, like the Porno For Pyro smoking hesher hash vibe of “Quicksand,” and “Low Tide,” which captures spacey new wave pop that could get the goth kids at the nearest cellar night club two-stepping. Others struggle with delivering the melodic undercurrent without distracting from the main pull of the song, or worse yet, murder the momentum. “Steady Breakdowns” suffers from the latter, kicking off with witchy occult rock before vanishing into smoke and space dust as the song loses focus. “Drifting” is just a mess, unfortunately closing the album with a bombardment of disagreeing parts played with the enthusiasm of a guilty elegy. The overall results may be inconsistent, leading to frustrating so-god-damn-close moments where you understand that sometimes less is definitely more, but it’s also fascinating and inspiring. Beneath the proggy spazz-outs and the lightning strikes of pop melody this is still a loud rock album, just one that values patience and excitedly experiments with tone. In the middle of the record Pleasants sings that “You have lost your soul.” After listening to this record it’s clear she’s not singing to a mirror, because Kylesa is displaying more soul and courage than any previous recording, even if it doesn’t pound mountains to dust like Static Tensions.

Listen to Ultraviolet now on Spotify and check out Kylesa over at Season of Mist:

And check them out on Facebook. With over 47,000 likes it’s not like they need you, but I heard they think you’re cool and funny and stuff:

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Hey, little growlers. This is just a quick message to announce that the first issue of Decibel Magazine containing my writing has now been released. I’m humbled to not only be among many of the finest writers in the rock industry (I just started to type some of their names, and ended up naming 85% of them without looking), but to also have my first articles within a tribute issue to Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman. Justin M. Norton put together an amazing piece of Hanneman’s life and legacy, and there are quotes from dozens of musicians paying their respects. As for my own content, it breaks down like this:

Page 18-19: Obscene Extreme Festival 2013 preview - I reached out to Curby, the festival’s mastermind, and received a goldmine in DIY touring insanity, complete with machetes, punches, extortion, and just enough triumph to make it all worth it. He’s one of the most positive dudes you’ll meet in the metal community, and I also received much appreciated memories and contributions from Desecration’s Ollie Jones, Fleshless vocalist Vladimir Prokos, and Shane Embury from the mighty Napalm Death.

Page 34: Deeds of Flesh profile - Erik Lindmark took a Friday afternoon to shoot the shit with me on the phone, talking about death metal, science-fiction, and tendonitis. He was massively accommodating and a total interview pro, making it beautifully easy for me. Hopefully he couldn’t tell how nervous I was talking to a guy whose music first made me feel invincible back when I was 16, when I was wearing jeans embarrassingly large for my waist, which was something like 18 inches around at the time.

Page 102: Serpent Throne’s Brother Lucifer review - I won’t reprint the review here, but I gave this instrumental blast of dusty retro rock and harmonized guitars an 8 out of 10. It’s very good, and should totally be appreciated by anyone who likes rock music. No screaming, no growling, just killer riffs on this Vietnam-era concept album.

I also want to thank everyone who has frequented this site. We just hit 5,000 unique views recently, which is nothing more than a huge validation of the devoted metal fan base and of the talent of the bands I’m lucky enough to listen to. Writing these reviews has never once felt like work, and I thank the artists for sharing their talents with us all. More reviews to come soon, but I’m gonna take the day off and re-read issue #105. God damn is this magazine awesome.

Order the issue over here as part of a 4-issue Slayer bundle:

Or subscribe already, you huge dildo. At $29.95 for a whole year this is one of the biggest bargains out there:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


So Wraiths call themselves “hell metal,” and despite the unreliable nature of most self-applied monikers this is actually pretty god damn apt. I would be tempted to substitute “hardcore” for metal, but when it’s this heavy and bruising that’s me just mincing words and being a genre-humping elitist douche. While they’re from the UK, Wraiths’ sound exists somewhere in the combined headspace of Travis Bickle and Richard Ramirez, mixing the horrors of urban isolation and suicidal Satanism in a bucket of bleach, ammonia, and goat blood, resulting in lethal fumes and grotesque hallucinations.

Their 5 song EP is completely dedicated to creating a mood of total hopelessness. These songs are the sounds of life hitting a dead end. If you’re looking for music that soars across the whole kingdom of emotion you’re in the wrong neighborhood, pal. There’s no triumph or love or positivity here, just riffs that are down-tuned, punishing, and blackened with gutter grime. A lot of the credit for the convincing unpleasantness can be attributed to Rae Robinson’s chilling roar, which seems genuinely tortured and resembles Sammy Duet’s supporting vocal work from Acid Bath/Goatwhore when he reaches into the higher registers.

Outside of crust punk bursts in “Black Vultures” and “Monolith,” most of the EP lurches forward at a mid-tempo stomp, a pace matching the somber tone crafted throughout. Despite the overwhelming bleakness there’s still a lot of texture here, from the gang-shouting on “Pyramid Head” to an audio clip from Devil’s Rejects that confirms that Wraiths’ music is here to do the devil’s work. Oh, I should also mention that this may qualify as a concept album, as it seems to follow the same character’s descent into violent vengeance as he pursues a future, following his likely suicide, as a demon in Satan’s horde. Maybe I’m incorrectly analyzing the lyrics, but I have a feeling when the words “I can’t wait to fucking die” are screamed over a sledgehammer of distortion it’s entirely literal. I guess it’s possible he means “die” in the Shakespearean way, as in having a totally killer orgasm, but this EP seems to enjoy shouting fuck more than actually fucking. What can I say, depression sucks.

But these songs, despite their themes, will push depression aside and invigorate fans of loud, ugly music. Nothing makes you want to punch God right in his/her/its face more than Wraiths’ bludgeoning attack. This is another raw, uncompromising release from Witch Hunter Records for any fan of music with a black heart and a mean streak. Also, it looks like they borrowed Slayer’s logo for a little while, with promises to return it as good as new. But after hearing this EP I know that when they give it back it will be burnt like a Norwegian church, slick with new blood, and stink like an unearthed prostitute. Such is the danger when making logo-swap deals with Wraiths.

Listen to this nasty slab of hell metal over yonder:

And “Join the Pre-Order” by grabbing one of these bad ass T-Shirt/Tape bundles:

Monday, May 27, 2013


When searching to confirm the definition for “grassroll” I encountered a few different possibilities: 1) A scroll-like piece of turf that unrolls like a carpet, usually to replace grass in stadiums. 2) The unsportsmanlike act of faking an injury on the soccer/football field to waste time late in a game. 3) A doobie. With the strung-out NOLA sound prevalent on this album I figured it would be the latter, but a quick trip to Grassroll’s Facebook page shows “football” as one of their three listed interests. Maybe it’s a combination, like a catastrophically stoned footballer writhing on the unrolled turf. Just so you all know, I don’t put this much effort into considering a band’s name if I don’t dig their music, and Grassroll fucking rip.

Formed in Greece in 2009, they would fit perfectly in the New Orleans scene with their bluesy groove and sludgy undercurrent of thick bass. Their EP, Gorilla Sized Social Problems, is supercharged with addicting enthusiasm and rages with a unique sense of fun, despite the brutal influences that show up in their songs. The band that mostly comes to mind is Soilent Green, whose dusty, down-tuned grinding death has been criminally under-appreciated by most metal fans. But not Grassroll. They have likely listened to Sewn Mouth Secrets & A String Of Lies a thousand times and built upon that foundation of death metal and classic rock boogie with hooks that result in supremely catchy calls for revolution. “Aileen” stampedes through Carcass’ Swansong territory with concise, hook-driven death’n’roll before including elements of djent-leaning metalcore and stoner metal. I also want to mention that Annie’s vocals are as menacing as hell is hot. I couldn’t find a last name for her, but she spends a lot of this album sounding like a Candarian demon unleashed by the Necronomicon.

Grassroll cave skulls on “Fuck Your Best,” pulling off devastating tempo shifts that halt crusty grind mid-gallop with towering riffs that compare favorably with Acid Bath’s best work. “Under Destruction” starts with a V For Vendetta quote and feels like a call-to-arms totally prepared to hand out the baseball bats and pitchforks. The only bummer is that this EP is already short at 13 minutes, and 3 of that is music-box ambience lingering after the final guitar fizzle. Still, the old adage “leave ‘em wanting more” is definitely effective here, ‘cause I am absolutely craving more tunes from these maniacs.

Check out Gorilla Sized Social Problems over at Bandcamp:

And follow them on Facebook, where I learned they recorded 5 songs for this EP. Note to Grassroll: YOU MUST RELEASE THE OTHER TWO. MY EARS NEED IT:

Friday, May 24, 2013


So I learned a lot this morning by deciding to review Mumakil’s upcoming album Flies Will Starve today. First, they’re named after a fictional Tolkien beast, those six-tusked two-hundred feet tall elephant creatures who royally fuck shit up in Return of the King. I found a poem written about one by Samwise the Hobbit and he has a totally amateur grasp of poetic forms and rhyme schemes, incapable of capturing their enormous fury the way this band has. I then researched the life cycle of flies and discovered that most don’t live for more than a month, and can starve after just a few days. This confirmed my disdain for these pesky little jerks for buzzing around my eyeballs during the summer, as if they have nothing better to do with their thirty days on this planet.

The members of Mumakil use their time alive with a higher purpose: Blistering their fingers and snapping your neck with ferocious grind that will pry your ear canal open and funnel in anthrax. From the confident first blast of “Death From Below” you can tell this ain’t Mumakil’s first ride at the rodeo. They’ve been assaulting the world from their Swiss lair in Geneva since 2004, releasing several split albums and three full-lengths, including Flies Will Starve, their second with Relapse Records. They have used every moment of the past nine years conceiving ways to injure you with the sound screaming from their amplifiers and off their percussive devices. With 24 tracks it would require a manifesto of Tolkien proportions to accurately describe all of the lethal techniques used on this monster, but some highlights of their multi-faceted attack include: The stop’n’start trauma of “War Therapist,” the thrashing groove of “Waste By Definition,” and the technical death wizardry of “Fucktards Parade.” There’s definitely more than a pinch of tech-death here, as the riffs often have as much in common with Nile or Decapitated as they do label-mates Brutal Truth or Rotten Sound. But Mumakil really is its own (six-tusked) animal.

This is the catchiest blast of 200+ BPM sonic anger I’ve heard in an elephant’s age. Elephants live a long time, right? About a billion times longer than flies? My lazy internet searches and lazier math confirm this is true. It’s just exciting to hear a band building grind on riffs rather than blastbeats (but if it’s blastbeats you want, good lord, does Kevin Foley not disappoint you) and actually forming these crazy things called songs. Somewhere along the way, a group of near-sighted people obsessed with guidelines and mind-numbing consistency decided there were rules for grindcore, and those rules are only allowed to be broken if you increase the average song speed by X amount. By its nature, grindcore is a genre that should be forever evolving, restlessly searching for new weapons. Thankfully, all of the bands worth a damn took that rule book, said “No thanks” as impolitely as possible, and set it ablaze with a mouth full of bathtub bourbon and a lit Molotov. They may not challenge perceptions of grindcore (and reality) as defiantly as someone like Pig Destroyer, but Mumakil is absolutely one of those bands.

This album releases in late June, right around my birthday. This will definitely be spinning while I blow out my cake candles, lit from the same burning grindcore rulebook.

Check out more information on Mumakil over at their profile on Relapse Records, including how t pre-order this beast:

And follow them on Facebook here:

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Continuing our series of metal reviews by non-metal fans, Mister Growl welcomes another guest reviewer into our unholy flock: Shane Frasier, Acquired Taste Booking owner and creator of the Behemoth Music Festival, a series of concerts in Upstate New York that recently reached down into Brooklyn. He has also been a member of roughly seven thousand bands, ranging from hardcore punk (Daytime Soiree) to electronic/dance music (Mr. Owl) to eccentric insanity (The Lanky Mofos and The Bumblebees). He was nice enough to accept our invitation and review one of the several 2012 releases from Coffins, their March of Despair EP:

“Full disclosure: I know nothing about metal.

Well, that's not entirely true. I like metal, but there's no way I'd proclaim myself an aficionado of the genre. It was, for lack of a better word, forced on me at a young age by my older brother. Bands like Cradle of Filth and Slayer paved the way to others like Emperor and Skinless. Not that I minded, but it was quite a culture shock to me when bands like The Clash were my main musical staple. Bearing that in mind, my understanding of the genre has blossomed into something more appreciative now, but I’m not entirely convinced. I say this so I don't come across as a complete idiot whilst I review a EP from a Japanese band called Coffins.

The five song album titled March of Despair, opens up with the track “Till Dawn of the Doomsday,” which, honestly, didn't quench the punch in the face opening track thirst I needed to really get into this album. It's a solid track, full of enough trudging guitar riffs and breakdowns to make me throw down at my desk chair, but it stalls in the beginning, which, in my humble musical opinion, is not the beginning of a great song. I know metal is about momentum, but when it’s forced on you early in the track, it can create an incomplete feeling to the rest of the track.

The songs “Carpet of Bones” and “In Bloody Sewage” remain my favorites, maybe because I myself own an actual carpet of bones and I have a fixation towards bloody sewage. These two tracks feel more refined than the others, if maybe not altogether more free form. While I liked these two songs, they created a bigger problem for me overall as I found all the songs on the album to have different production values. I could be going deaf, the end result of the hundred or more shows I've gone to in the last couple years where I haven't worn ear plugs, but I got the distinct notion these songs were all leveled differently, which can create a problematic listening experience if you’re a fan of audio consistency.

The other two tracks, “Grotesque Messiah” and “Corpsegrinder,” didn't hit me the way I wanted them to. “Grotesque Messiah” feels sloppy, and yeah, I know, I'm listening to a death metal band, sloppiness is appreciated in this genre, right? But considering the other songs on the album felt tight, this song in particular bugged me in a way no other song since “Mambo Number 5” has (THE TRUMPET!). And “Corpsegrinder” just doesn't feel like much of a song to me. That's a very vague review of it, but if you listen to it, maybe you'll agree.

Overall, I'm a bit torn. Like the 80's song, but in reverse, Japan is big with me, and I often go out of my way to either listen to music from Japan or at least appreciate their take on the punk and metal genres. But I couldn't help feeling this was more of a faux version of what death metal is supposed to be, the culmination of one band’s attempt to replicate bands that they've loved, but couldn't fully execute musically. If you have a half hour to spare, and just feel like giving something a try, March of Despair is as least worth a listen, if not completely unforgettable.”

- Shane Frasier

(Editor’s Note: “Corpsegrinder” is a cover of a song off Death’s second demo tape. Just a little pop-up trivia for the diehards. - MG)

Many thanks to Shane for sharing his thoughts! He introduced himself with modesty but he did actually suggest Black Cobra and Withered when deciding what album to review. That’s pretty obscure knowledge for someone who knows “nothing about metal.” Check out Coffins on Spotify, they have several albums available, and their upcoming album The Fleshland is due out July 9th.

Pre-order The Fleshland here:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Hat tip to Headfirst! Records for pointing my crusty ears in the direction of Mourning Cloak, who have one song available over on Bandcamp called “No Visible Light.” The title is apt, because this track is an ominous cloud blocking the sun, raining down charcoal dust, black mud, and infant ash on us all.

Their Facebook page refers to their music as “funeral doom/punk,” but I only hear the former in this track. But this song doesn’t sulk through the cemetery, it grooves hard enough to split the catacombs in half, releasing the crypt bats into the air. After the quickly dissipating opening ambience the guitars crawl from open graves and shake the rust off their bones with godless black-and-blues riffs. There is suck a thick layer of slime and sludge on this song that it reminds me of that barrier of grime and giant centipedes Indiana Jones’ love interest sticks her hand through in Temple of Doom. If you don’t get that reference, here it is in non-geek language: This song is nasty and unpleasant in the most sadistically delightful ways possible. The vocalist sounds like he’s plummeting into a bottomless pit, shaking hands with the devil to make a pact to finally break his fall. The song concludes with a (slightly overlong) cacophony of mayhem and sirens, which sadly just sounded like the usual Brooklyn madness outside my window, home of serial-arsonists and fisticuffs. I’m really anxious to hear more from these guys from Greensboro, NC, especially if upcoming songs mix in the punk influences they mention as well. I’m not sure if they named themselves after the butterfly species (Latin name: Nymphalis antiopa) but I did notice that the pre-butterfly larvae form looks exactly like the type of creature who would jam out to this music: Mean, dressed in black, dotted suspiciously with red stains, and covered in spikes. This is some seriously bleak stuff that fans of Bongzilla and Cough should feverishly inhale.

Listen to “No Visible Light” over at Bandcamp here:

And follow them on Facebook here:

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Continuing my crusade for Canadian readership and also shouting out to my Twitter followers, I bring you Prey For Us, a two-song EP from Waster. Waster was one of the first bands to follow me on Twitter and I’ve been excited to cover this morsel o’ metal from the grand, icy North.

Based in Winnipeg, Waster play bearded, denim-clad metal for people who have never felt a hangover because they’ve never stopped drinking. While their previous release Thunder Pit had heavy doses of Nashville Pussy’s raw-dogging punk and southern-fried sludge, the two songs on Prey For Us focus slightly more on meaty, metallic riffing. Truth be told, Waster’s two newest tracks could fool lifelong fans of Pantera that these were lost cuts from The Great Southern Trendkill. Nick Wiebe is Phil Anselmo’s vocal doppleganger, attacking the mic with a brilliant performance. The Michael Fardoe/Harley Watt guitar tag-team keep the songs storming forward with serious momentum, apart from a slightly too-long harmonized bit of technical wizardry in the second minute of the title track. “At War” rages from the seething opening seconds to the final unaccompanied raspy scream, sneaking in bluesy flourishes and anthemic melody. It’s the perfect closing track for an EP: Concise, polished, and absolutely leaves the listener thirsty for more beer-drenched metal. I’m definitely looking forward to their next release, slated to kick our eager asses sometime in 2013.

I did notice that the Prey For Us album cover has American dollars flapping around the horned disciple, not Canadian. Not sure what they’re trying to say about the money in my pocket, but open your own wallets over at their Bandcamp, as they have both of their releases available as “Name Your Price” downloads:

And follow them on Facebook over at:

I also wanted to say this review was also inspired by a friend from Winnipeg who I met at the annual NYC Zombiecon. She’s currently hanging out with medicine men and becoming enlightened and all that hippie shit, but she laughs at my awful jokes sometimes so she’s not so bad I guess. Hope you’re doing well over there, zombie comrade.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


I judge books by their covers all the time. Albums too. Luke Drozd’s cover art for Koresh’s new EP Chump perfectly captures the music’s brutal, impish mania, with rage-possessed unicorns dueling for unknown reasons, but probably for something ultra-important, like to impress a nearby unicorn chick who totally digs blood-slicked horns, ‘cause really, who doesn’t? Koresh, who have been churning stomachs with punk-infused sludge for a decade now in London, kick out ugly, nasty tunes that smirk at you the whole time if you’re in on the joke. And the music ain’t the joke.

This release from Witch Hunter and Withered Hand Records, a follow-up to 2010's excellent Crippledriver, crackles with the reckless punk energy of The Stooges or Junkyard-era work by The Birthday Party while dishing out crusty sludge overdosing on groove and grit. The Paul Newell/Donny Hopkins vocal tandem reminds me of Weedeater’s Dave “Dixie” Collins, if his vocal cords were grafted with cells from Nocturno Culto’s throat. There is definitely a sense of fun that permeates Chump, from the celebratory “woo!” in “Straight Edge Till Midnight” to the hilarious audio clip from American Juggalo opening “Wogan” to the T-shirt worthy song title “Adolf Hipster.” Also, “You Can Call Me Gaahl” is my favorite title parody since Carcass’ “Keep On Rotting In the Free World.” Koresh, named after the Branch Davidian leader involved with the infamous Waco incident, share a twisted sense of humor that’s absolutely on my wavelength. You know the friend you can send any joke to, no matter how offensive and reprehensible? Yeah, that’s Koresh. This music is like laughter at a funeral, the type of chuckling that’s contagious and soon overtakes the crowd of mourners.

“Cheer Up Glasgow” shows Koresh at their most bleak, offering tortured doom until it blasts into hardcore punk and a stoned groove that brings to mind the slimy tempo shifts of Eyehategod’s In the Name of Suffering. Koresh crash into jagged noise-rock territory in “Bin Juice,” ripping worlds apart with catchy, spastic riffs that skip gentle head-nodding and go straight to tearing your own head off and tossing it in the air in celebration. The bass-heavy rock of “Shitbird” seems a bit rigid and lifeless compared to the rest of the album, but the final minute still slithers to awesomeness thanks to a killer bass line. Chump is the soundtrack of a bender destined to go bad, the sort of party where hundreds of laws are shattered and at least one person loses a limb. Then years later, when the traumatized partyers break vows to never speak of that night again, everyone admits that secretly, despite the debauchery and limb-loss, it was the best party they ever experienced. Koresh is not polite. They will make fun of your mom, even after you tell her she’s dead. But the joke will get you laughing, and their music will make you swear off civility.

Listen to Crush now and order an awesome CD/Shirt bundle over here:

And check out the Koresh website for more information:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Mister Growl doesn’t yelp, let’s get that straight. Yelping is a sound too sissified to come from my masculine vocal cords. I have been known to yawp, however. My personal “Yelp” ban left me with only one possible course of action after recently visiting Pumps in Brooklyn: Write about the city’s only rock’n’roll strip joint on my metal blog. It’s not like my friends and fellow headbangers would mind, I mean strip clubs have been an important element of rock excess for 30 years. Where would Mötley Crüe be without strip clubs? And where would we all be without Mötley Crüe, besides maybe just a smidge happier and a lot more sober? As a non-ironic fan of clubs, especially ones with character and rock attitude, I will even excuse Crüe’s entire discography if it means one more place like Pumps in the world.

Pumps is tucked away on a dreary stretch of road that Bushwick seemingly doesn’t want to claim, so people started calling it East Williamsburg. There’s broken glass on the sidewalks and foreboding factories leering down at pedestrians until the glow of a neighboring gas station lures patrons closer, like that famous dock light from The Great Gatsby that Baz Luhrmann will recreate using atrocious CGI. The locale is not hip, it’s not fabulous, but it’s the exact quiet walk you need before and after a trip to a strip club to think of The Greater Truths. The ten minute walk (if you have short legs) from the nearest subway is perfect for an internal monologue about how the stigma of these establishments is just a hypocritical view of “evil” capitalism. Truth be told: Strip clubs offer a service. If the service does not interest you, move on. No need to demonize the patrons, the owner, and especially the workers. Everyone’s gotta make a living. I’m lucky enough to make a few bucks writing about metal albums, and those are the cleanest dollars I make. My day job is no better than someone shedding a little clothing to a song off ...And Justice For All.

Which they do at Pumps. I walked in with Metallica’s “One” playing loudly and three topless dancers performing in front of a long mirror, creating the illusion that the venue is twice the size. After the initial M.C Escher mirror mind-trick I was able to take in the layout: A long bar with 2 female tenders sliding drinks to eager customers and one long aisle to walk behind the stool-perched patrons lining the counter with a narrow lap dance lounge separated from the main room by a curtain of beads. Two beautiful motorcycles hang from the ceiling with assorted rock/sports related posters and knick-knacks decorating the walls. The dancers take turns twisting around two poles, leaving one to freestyle against the mirror or on the floor of the platform. There’s a refreshingly blunt streaming neon sign over the bar reading “If you don’t have money take your broke ass home!”

Which takes me back to this being a service. Remember, most services cost money. I don’t know what your job is, dear reader, but I assume you would not do your job for free, unless you’re a lowly intern, which means that you have all my sympathy. Unless you wander into Pumps without the ability or desire to spend some money, then my sympathy dries up like a mummified vagina. There’s no cover, which is awesome and increasingly rare, unless you get some glossy postcard for a Times Square strip club and enter a place before 7PM, which I’m not against but will definitely limit your ability to accurately enjoy the full splendor of any establishment. Beers are $7, stronger drinks are $10 or so. The bartenders live off of tips, as do the dancers. After each song the dancers on stage will stroll around the bar, say hello, and ask for a sign of your appreciation, which is a dollar amount of your choosing, as long as it’s one or above. Some will gripe about this practice, as there’s usually more distance between seats and the stage, affording customers less anonymity and privacy. I personally love it, and it makes the experience more personal and closes that gap between performer and patron. This is a small place to begin with, so it’s not like you’re gonna find a dark corner and camouflage yourself to ogle without detection. Cough up some cash and treat everyone right, which includes polite tipping and staying respectful. Lap dances are available for the standard $20, but the dancers are not topless, which I admit is a bummer. Still, if you want some conversation and friction this is a promising opportunity. You’re also welcome to buy a dancer a drink if you’d prefer more conversation and less friction, and they will usually opt for a $20 glass of champagne. These prices are pretty standard for this industry, so if you’re rolling your eyes at them you have my permission to stay at home and peruse the internet for nudity, which should take an exhausting .6 second Google search.

The staff of dancers is eclectic but leans toward Suicide Girl territory, with body mods abound and Manic Panic hair moving brightly in the black light. Still, if you’re searching for a certain body type or ethnicity they are very likely represented on a weekend night. All of the dancers were very friendly, offering chit chat if it was sought, or vaster discussions about art if you pay for their time. I won’t mention any names (since aliases mutate regularly in this business anyway), but the staff in general were fun and laid-back, cracking jokes about their Catholic roots while Rage Against the Machine blasted in the background.

One extremely talented performer, a dark-haired beauty named Mia, invited me to a Pumps-hosted event later in the week featuring an art exhibit and a burlesque show. I used to frequent Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School over at the Slipper Room, my favorite burlesque joint in the city, so the union of art and burlesque is totally my jam. I will cover Aubrey Roemer’s dynamic work soon as a featured artist on this blog, so stay tuned for that, because it features the Pumps Pin-Ups.

Anyway, I’m one of those annoying guys who is fifteen minutes early for everything, including the art exhibit. The Pumps owner (or manager, unsure which) was kind enough to not only open the doors to me, but give me a drink on the house for being the early bird eating the fuck out of the worm. He then said, “If you were wearing a Pumps shirt I’d have given you two beers.” I was wearing the Down “smoking Jesus” shirt. Frowny face. Still, little gestures like that are what make a business part of the community, and it did not go ignored. The burlesque show was sassy fun, showing off the singing/dancing/teasing talents of the Pumps Pin-Ups with smiles abound. Burlesque is one of my favorite forms of entertainment and they nailed the mischievous, playful tone that makes it so appealing.

I definitely recommend Pumps to anyone seeking a gentleman’s club experience more in line with my own blue collar working attitude. Scores may get all the Yankee players, and they can keep ‘em. Pumps get the rockers and metalheads who stop by Duff’s and Saint Vitus, though the clientele is diverse as well. I see Pumps as a positive life experience, one that discards the bells and whistles of polished, upscale clubs and succeeds with quality talent, personality, and a playlist that rocks harder than any other club in the city. It may not be glamorous and it may not be the Vegas strip, but I know Crüe would approve, and they’re pretty much the Roger Ebert of strip club opinions and insight.

Get more information on Pumps over on their site, including the address and happy hour times (with $4 beers, which is totally solid):

Monday, May 6, 2013


I try not to obsess over traffic statistics for this site even though I am a numbers junkie, caused by years of playing Strat-O-Matic Baseball with my father and perusing obscure career stats from New York Mets bench players. That being said, I can’t help but notice that my readership in Canada is lower than my readership in Germany, despite the fact that I’ve covered bands across the great North while I’ve yet to review a German release. Enter Montreal’s Beyond Creation, who I’m relying on to make my Canadian readership EXPLODE and make me as popular as maple syrup, or whatever stereotypical treat my ignorant American ass relates to Canada.

Beyond Creation’s new album from Season of Mist, The Aura, is a fresh pulse of time-warping progressive death metal that should probably be traded person to person through a media format that hasn’t been invented yet, like transferrable brain chips or spinal download disks, which slide between vertebrae and fuse music directly with your neural system. Beyond Creation’s brand of next century’s technical death displays virtuosity without distracting from the songs, allowing ample room for exploration while the structures keep each track contained in its own definite universe. The music on The Aura is elastic and borderline aquatic in nature, swimming naturally from extra-terrestrial djent to finger-blurring death metal riffing to what I like to call “progressive space jams.” No, they do not feature the most dynamic basketball players of the 90s and WB cartoons, but they do have passages of radar-pinging guitars and a bass tone that sounds like the bellow of some intergalactic worm-whale while  resourceful drumming slyly twists beneath. But these are only brief escapes from Beyond Creation’s sinister pummel and mathematic trickery, brought to life through vastly impressive performances from the entire band. From Dominic 'Forest' Lapointe’s nimble bass work (which calls forth memories of Roger Patterson’s best work in Atheist) to Simon Girard’s on-point vocal attack to the Kevin Chartré/Girard tag-team guitar assault, this is top notch progressive death metal executed with spit, sweat, and whatever fluid will replace blood a thousand years in the future.

The only song that felt uninspired was “Omnipresent,” which shifts from mid-tempo chugging to a bastardized “Snakes For the Divine” riff. This is the only song that doesn’t hold up under multiple listens, as The Aura rips through uncharted territory by achieving oxymoronic herky-jerky groove. Considering how many tempo shifts alter the path of each song the catchy nature of the music is, as Wallace Shawn would say, inconceivable. The instrumental track “Chromatic Horizon” rampages beautifully in my headphones while the title track manipulates my brain into head nodding motions, growing more violent as the song progresses. The album's centerpiece, “The Deported,” winds through outer space like one of those intergalactic worm-whales I mentioned earlier, surprisingly elusive for such a powerful beast. It’s rare to find death metal so cunning, so difficult to trap into a corner and identify before it bites your throat out.

Decibel Magazine revealed that Beyond Creation will be playing several dates of the magazine’s tour, opening for the three-headed killing machine that will be Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death, and Immolation. If you’re able to catch them on the May 21st - June 2nd leg of the tour DO IT. I need you to report to me if they’re actually playing instruments light-beamed here from a distant planet populated with tentacled metalheads, because considering some of the rhythms and sounds on this album, that’s about all that makes sense.

Seek more Beyond Creation data here:

The Aura releases in the United States on May 14th. Order this madness here: