Suicidal Tendencies, No Mercy Fool!/The Suicidal Family (Suicidal Records)

There were just so many thoughts running through my mind when I heard about this release. The first studio album in 10 years from these punk legends would be rerecordings of old songs. Then I find out it’s really just new versions of songs from 1987, both from the recordings as the group No Mercy and from the Join the Army album from ST. So if this is just 1987 it seems likely there would be more of these in the works. Cyco Miko seems to like doing stuff like this though, as he’s released three “and friends” comps with songs from his solo works, ST, Infectious Grooves an others all culled together, with a handful of tracks rerecorded as well.

So of course there’s the thought that the past is the past. If the songs were good enough back in the day, why fuck with them by rerecording them? But if they weren’t good enough in the first place and that’s why you are doing them again – then who’s going to care? But if nothing else, if you are going to do it, do it right.

Anthrax put out Greater of Two Evils years back which featured John Bush singing Joey Belladonna tunes. Done right. Exodus rerecorded Bonded by Blood, a classic album which thrash metal fans love in its original form. Not done right. Fortunately, No Mercy Fool seems to fall in the former category.

The first seven tracks are from Join the Army which simply makes me wonder why they didn’t just re-do the whole thing since this is more than half the cuts on the record. As you’d expect, the production quality is better than the original and the playing is crisper and cleaner than it ever was. Tracks like “Born To Be Cyco” and “No Name, No Words” still feel very old school though while the remakes of “Possessed to Skate” and especially “The Prisoner” (download) have a very different vibe to them and might be better than the originals.

The last half of the album are tracks from No Mercy which also fit the mold of the first half the record. “We’re Fuckin’ Evil” is more brutal than it used to be but also sounds very much like 1987 still. And, they changed the lyrics slightly – is that allowed on one of these?

Overall, the two things that are very noticeable is that Mike Muir can still sing. He doesn’t sound anything like the 1987 Cyco Miko but that can’t be expected. And the drumming provided by Steve Brunner for the ST songs and Eric Moore for the No Mercy tunes is better than ever and that adds a new dynamic to the tunes. It actually turns out to be quite an entertaining record leading into what should be a brand new Suicidal Tendencies record coming out in the near future.

Quest for Fire, Lights from Paradise (Tee Pee)

I’ve never dropped acid before, but since I trust my television to accurately portray everything in the outside world then I’m pretty certain from what I know it would do to me, Lights from Paradise would be the soundtrack to my trip.

So I’m assuming the first thing I would get if I did do that acid is kind of a happy feeling, lights popping, maybe I look upwards to the sky and the world starts turning on me. That would fit right in with the string filled trippy opening track, “The Greatest Hits By God.”

Then people would start talking to me as I’m walking across the football field and their faces would seem to be right in mine although I wouldn’t really be able to understand a word they are saying. Still, I trek across this field with a mission in mind, whatever that mission may be – I’m on it intensely. The psychedelic starting riff turning into a fuzzed out rocker of “Set Out Alone” would help me maintain that intensity.

Then the marching band starts playing the drum intro to “Strange Vacation” and I get a bit disoriented, hearing layers upon layers of harmonies in my mind.

I finally get to the other side of the field and fall down under the bleachers and start crying for some unknown reason. Meanwhile, I’m thinking what it would be like to be Robert Plant up on stage – which is a perfect scenario for “Confusion’s Home” which has a riff almost identical to “No Quarter”.

Then something kicks in and I go crazy. I hunt down the bully that’s been tormenting me for years and the monstrous riffs of “In the Place of a Storm” play as I pummel him until we’re both covered in blood.

Except when I’m done, I realize that I haven’t been punching him at all, instead I’ve been punching the concrete and all the blood is coming from my hand. My friends run to grab me and stop me from destroying myself while the beautiful haunting acoustic rhythms of “Psychic Season” help bring me down.

My buddies take me to the hospital and that’s when I realize the acid I took was bad. My girlfriend comes in to the dark depressing sounds of “Sessions of Light”. As she’s telling me how much she loves me and wants to be with me, the song gets louder and angrier as the sounds in my head intensify and I go into a seizure. Doctors run around trying to stabilize me as the psychedelic sounds come back and I start to see a white light. But then I run, I run as fast as I can ‘cause it’s just not my time. It’s not my time, I tell you. Then I wake up and the entire football team is in the room, people are hugging me and telling me how close I was to dying and I vow never to get mixed up in acid again as the mellow ending of “Sessions” leads me on to triumph over adversity.

I think that’s how an acid trip goes, right? If not, then let me just simply it for you. Quest for Fire’s Lights from Paradise is bad ass. Better?

Armagedda, I am (Eisenwald/Nordvis)

Swedish black metal duo Armagedda may have broken up but the legacy lives on with this EP culling four unreleased tracks from 2001-2002.

Of the four, the title track has been performed in concert but the rest are being heard for the first time (well, okay – I can assume “I Am” is probably being heard for the first time by most people as well).
Armagedda paint a bleak picture of death and the occult in their songs all in the five-to-six minute range – and all of which any fan of black metal should love. Singer Graav states in the excellent title track, “I support the evil in mankind/the evil that never dies” and that sentiment is evident throughout the length of the EP.

All four tracks are pretty great with “Cold Eon” (download) leading off with some startling screaming before showing a bit of a punk side to mix with the blackness.

Unfortunately, if only four songs could be found in the vault, then this will probably be the last we encounter Armagedda.

Megadeth, Rust in Peace Live (Shout Factory)

I’m not a big fan of live albums, but this is one I really couldn’t pass up.

If you didn’t know, Megadeth’s last tour featured them playing their classic Rust in Peace album from start to finish to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the disc. This CD/DVD is captured from the final night of the tour at the Palladium and features the band starting off with the entire album and then playing various other cuts from their career before and after Rust.

I didn’t go to any shows on this tour, but I did attend the screening of the big 4 concert a few months ago and I left that show extremely disappointed in Megadeth and honestly, it was all Dave Mustaine’s fault. The music was technically perfect but either he was on something or having an extremely bad day but he couldn’t hit his falsetto as all. Vocally it sounded like he had his balls in a vice. Thankfully, that’s not the case for this disc. (Note: I didn’t watch the DVD, only listened to the audio portion).

The playing of Rust in Peace is virtually flawless. Yes, Dave certainly doesn’t sound great trying to hit some of the higher notes in “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” and the background vocals in “Five Magics” are just slightly off but those are really the only minor issues in an otherwise perfect performance.

The classic “Hangar 18” (download) sounds so dynamic and the solo in “Five Magics” is fucking unbelievable. Playing an album in full can certainly be painful if not done right – but hearing this was extremely entertaining.

Megadeth did play some more after the album was finished with three of their hits, “Skin O’ My Teeth”, “Symphony of Destruction” and “Trust” while throwing in tracks like “Peace Sells” and “In My Darkest Hour”. The most curious inclusion is “She-Wolf” from Cryptic Writings – but hey, he can play what he wants. The riffing in “Symphony” is so good it makes you want to grab a guitar and immediately learn that track.

There’s no doubt that Dave is one of the most talented guitar players alive and on nights where he has his voice you get a performance like this – riveting, invigorating and balls to the fucking wall.

Stargazer, A Great Work of Ages (Profound Lore)

Stargazer made a bit of a name for themselves in their native Australia with their first record (The Scream That Tore the Sky) five long years ago. So now Profound Lore has signed them and are releasing their new album in the states.

If you do a little reading on these guys they are considered an avant-garde black metal band and/or a progressive death metal outfit. Kind of strange to be considered both, but they do play music that’s all over the map so pigeonholing them into one genre is pretty tough. The weird thing though is that they really don’t seem to be black metal at all. I think just calling them extreme metal would fit the criteria best.

I’m all about stepping out of the box and doing something a little different and new but A Great Work of Ages sounds a little too ambitious for these guys to pull off. The complex nature of the music fits the complex song titles (“Refractive Convex Continuum” (download), “The Morbid Slither – The Sinner Slough”) but often feels very jumbled.

It reminds me of the early ‘90s, where every “progressive” metal band came out of the woodwork and tried to impress by putting as many chord progressions into each song as humanly possible. Stargazer is better than that, but they too change up each song so often that it just feels like they are trying to show off skills. I can appreciate the fact they are shooting for something different but a little refinement might go a long way.