Welcome to the final Heavy Buys of 2021! We are in the thick of it in the holidays and consumerism is in full swing. In the last month I’ve made a number of reckless purchases in the spirit of Black Friday deals, many of which you can read about below with a dump of seven(!) records inspected. Did you get any good deals? They’re fewer and further between, given the economy lately, but that Christmas bonus hit different this year.
It’s been a horse I’ve beaten, buried, and dug up again: the ongoing vinyl situation is worrisome. To recap: the hobby popped off during the pandemic, one of the few factories left went up in flames, and there’s a global supply chain issue. Demand is massive, and supply is thin. That has left us over the course of the last year with year-long pre-order periods and the price of records skyrocketing. Personally, despite how much I complain (and yes, price point does come up in every review below) I’m not that affected due to being privileged with stable employment and a decent income, but still, it’s easy to complain when single LPs were in the ballpark of $18 – 25 when I got into the hobby and now we’re seeing single LP releases going upwards of $40.
God bless 20 Buck Spin for holding somewhat true to their name over the years; standard black vinyl still sells for $19.99 on their site for single LP releases, with more flashy and limited runs swinging upwards of $23. It also helps that they sign bands that naturally sounds phenomenal on the format. Support them wherever possible.
Complaining is fun, as it’s the only power we have in the moment, so look over me. Killer music is always going to be coming out, and the spirit is there to keep this hobby active for a long time coming assuming there isn’t some catastrophic collapse. Below, check out my thoughts on new acquisitions from Thundercat, Plebeian Grandstant, Psyopus, Vildhjarta, Knife the Glitter, Teeth, and Hayworth!
Thundercat – The Golden Age Of Apocalypse (Ten Year Anniversary Edition)
Record Store Day Black Friday Exclusive Translucent Red; Limited to 4000
At some point Record Store Day became not a single day to celebrate independent record stores, but several days out of the year where you have opportunity to wait anxiously in line hours before the store opens so you can purchase a record of finite quantity so you don’t have to pay twice as much on Discogs later. It’s easy to complain about things that are generally out of anybody’s control. There wasn’t a whole lot during this third RSD of 2021 that I was too incredibly excited about until I saw that jazz, hip-hop, and RnB bassist Thundercat was re-releasing his debut album for the event. I finally got into Thundercat last year with his incredible new record It Is What It Is (which would go on to win a Grammy for progressive RnB album, whatever that is), so I was excited to expand my collection to include more Thundercat. Plus, the promotional video posted by Thundercat on Facebook for the pressing made it look stunning, with a holographic gold cover.
Fortunately the crowd wasn’t so massive at my local record store, and it doesn’t look like there was any competition to grab the single copy of this record that they carried. The cover looks incredible in person and cannot be captured in photos. The price on this thing was pretty hefty, nearing $42 after taxes. The record itself is a red translucent LP; standard weight, nothing fancy. So I assume mass producing glossy gold and holographic jackets (not even gatefold) can really do a number on the price tag? At 4000 copies? As frustrated as I continue to get over the price of records skyrocketing, I continue to pay those prices.
Purchase at your local record store(?) | Discogs
Teeth – Finite
Custom Spinner With Splatter; Limited to 300
Teeth are fast becoming one of those bands that is an instant purchase when new music drops. Beyond the immense quality of music that puts them firmly among their likes of WAKE and Ulcerate (blending technical death metal with special attention to atmosphere) yet finding enough idiosyncrasy in their sound to plot out their own path, their status as a (seemingly) flagship act at Translation Loss means that their physical media is always going to be stellar. I’ve name dropped and sung the praises of TL and Relapse Records product designer Drew Jeurgens for his work time and time again, and his attention to detail on the Teeth discography specifically has been consistently on point. This one’s no different. I also love how Translation Loss’ records continue to be quite affordable (this one is going for $24 at time of writing) despite looking and sounding as good as some of these $40 LPs labels are trying to sling out here.
I sat out on purchasing Finite for a bit too long and missed the more limited and eye-catching variant (seen here among the entire variant run) so I ended up with the spinner, but I can’t be mad about it. It looks so nice and fits the aesthetic of the cover art. Speaking of the cover art, it’s incredible. The jacket includes a neat detail in some spots of gloss accentuating assets on the art to provide some depth and texture, including in the band’s logo. It’s a nice additional touch for those who bought the LP that I can appreciate.
The record sounds great as well. The disc plays at 45 RPM and is pretty consistently clear, even during the EP’s more subdued moments. I’ve always said death metal soars on this format, and that’s absolutely the case with Finite. Band leader Erol Ulug not only knows how to write pummeling songs and deliver some menacing vocals, he’s a great producer who clearly wanted to emphasize the band’s power while still giving respect to the spaces in between. Simply, Finite sounds incredible on vinyl.
The only complaint I could levy against this release is that it isn’t a full length album, but more Teeth is good. They’re easily one of the most promising up and coming death metal bands of the moment, and this is a great reminder while we’re between full-length studio albums.
Plebeian Grandstand – Rien ne suffit
Purple / Black Galaxy
Debemur Morti Productions
In case you haven’t heard, the new record from Plebeian Grandstand is an intoxicating and downright horrifying blend of mathcore, black metal, industrial, post-metal, and death metal. It all comes together in a way that is more grandiose than one might expect, and absolutely corners the market on avant garde black metal where acts like Dodecahedron once held the mantle. It’s one of the year’s best, and buying this record was a no-brainer.
I haven’t made many purchases from Debemur Morti Productions in the past, but their track record that I was familiar with – Ulcerate and White Ward – spoke for itself, and this sits firmly in their wheelhouse. After discovering DMP North American distributor Meteor Gem this past Black Friday hocking this thing for a hotly reasonable $30 after discount (which is still available as of publication of this post) I leapt at the opportunity.
This record perhaps takes the crown for all around best record I’ve received this month when factoring quality, price, and value. This thick heavyweight 2xLP set came housed in poly-lined black paper sleeves outside a thick thick jacket. The record comes with a 24 page booklet with lyrics in both French (as performed) and English translations, with some tastefully artistic typography within. The records themselves are gorgeous and play pristine. Another knock-out release from DMP, with a special nod to Meteor Gem for making this available Stateside at an affordable price and getting this shipped out immediately on a holiday weekend. Would highly recommend perusing their inventory.
Vildhjarta – Masstaden Under Vatten
180 gram standard black; limited to 800
Century Media Records
Believe it or not, this month, Vildhjarta was the dark horse here. The album is good, but pales to the band’s debut from a decade ago, and to pay nearly $50 to get this record in America in a very generous pressing run of 800 units, this price point is nearly outrageous Why, Century Media? For why?! Regardless, I do what I always do and I paid for this one at my local record store because I asked them to order it without checking the price first. What am I gonna do, just let it sit there?
But here’s the thing: this record sounds absolutely phenomenal and is easily one of the cleanest, clearest records I’ve purchased since Nine Inch Nails‘ With Teeth. This record is 180 grams, plain black and plays nearly flawlessly. The album sounds massive, and even the ambient sections sound crisp and clean without blemishes. So maybe paying $50 for a 2LP is the price to pay for perfection?
On top of that, the label had the good sense of package the LPs in poly lined bags outside of the gatefold under the shrink wrap. The artwork on the cover, already incredible and among the best pieces of art out this year, is printed on a thick and subtly textured gatefold jacket that recalls canvas or a very fine wood grain. Within the gatefold is a double sided poster, adding more value. Okay, I get it now. The people involved in the making of this record wanted it to play flawlessly and spared no expense. Honest to God, this record has the quietest silence I’ve heard in a long time, and I’m over the moon. Hearing these chunky grooves and crisp, twinkling guitars on this format makes me appreciate the album even more. . Buy this fucking record. Thall.
Psyopus – Our Puzzling Encounters Considered
Frankenflame; Limited to 100
Silent Pendulum Records
You know how much I hate hyping up releases here that are long sold out by the time I can write about them. After all, this column is called Heavy Buys, so what’s the point if you can’t buy it? There’s a guilt to it. That being said, here’s three of them for you, all newly repressed mathcore records from the 2000’s. I hate the practice of a hard no on represses, but FOMO gets me every time, and I must participate.
Silent Pendulum, the label ran by The Number 12 Looks Like You and Downfall of Gaia drummer Michael Kadnar, is one of those limited run labels that has the rare sellout drop that never gets repressed, which appears to be the case here. However, it’s never explicitly stated that there will never ever be any represses unless licensing and sheer resources state otherwise and generally a Silent Pendulum pressing is pretty easy to get a hold of if you care enough about a release to put it on your schedule and have the funds ready to drop. And on top of that, Michael by all accounts is a great dude and the culture that Silent Pendulum curates feels more wholesome, perhaps as an extension of the mathcore community that the label specializes in and caters to. That is to say, Silent Pendulum doesn’t carry that toxic hype beast vibe, you know?
However, this 500-unit pressing of the Psyopus classic (pretty generous for a niche 14 year old album!) was gone within two minutes. It was dizzying. I knew it would be a bloodbath; this record is iconic! I sat on the side of the road between appointments at work with my phone in my shaking, refreshing the browser with Bandcamp and Paypal already logged in and full bars of LTE. I needed this record, as a man who had fond memories of being way too deep into mathcore and chaotic hardcore in the mid-to-late 2000’s. I set my sights on this Frankenflame variant. It was stunning.
Anyway, to make a big deal out of nothing, I got what I came for. To no surprise, the record looks fantastic in person, and everything is up to snuff against the quality that Silent Pendulum is known for. The original art assets haven’t aged particularly well, but we’re again talking about a fourteen year old record that was never really intended to be blown up to LP sized gatefold prints. Even the Spotify version of this album is just a scan of the album cover booklet pulled out of a jewelcase with its seam staple visible, so I’d say this came out as good as I could have expected short of a rather unnecessary and expensive redesign.
The music however has aged quite well! We’re in the midst of a mathcore resurgence, and Psyopus as they appear on this record sound absolutely vital and relevant. The discs don’t quite play flawlessly, but could likely be chalked up to happenstance and natural variations that I’d come to expect with vinyl at this point; my copy has a small surface scuff that could have happened at any point (even in my handling) that effects the very early moments of Side A which doesn’t become an issue once the band kicks into full gear with their particular brand of chaos. And, naturally, the low key moments and between-track silence can be noisy even after cleaning. The quiet “Siobhanis Song” has a constant sizzle. Is it me?!
Given their body of work thus far, I’m not about to fault Silent Pendulum over this one, but given how flawlessly the previously mentioned Vildhjarta plays at a similar price point, I have questions. On top of the killer looking variant, there’s also a neat quirk on Side D with a locking groove that will surely please fans of this album. Despite the scruff, this is easily one of the coolest records I’ve bought all year. Of course this comes at a cost of $45, which is steep but perhaps among the least egregious of the super limited records recalled in this post. At least I get two LPs in the most unique variant I own out of it. Besides, someone on Discogs has listed another variant of this record for $200, so it takes the sting away. I’m pretty stoked on this.
Having repressed albums by Into The Moat and Psyopus, it’s clear that Michael and co. at Silent Pendulum have a positive relationship with Metal Blade. If they ever get their hands on any Danza or The Red Chord (not a chance he hasn’t at least looked at it), god help us. Give them to me expeditiously. In the mean time I’m about to check and see if my cleaning methods are trash (currently: steps 1 and 2).
Sold Out! (Sorry!) | Discogs
Knife The Glitter – Breakfast Time
Puke; Limited to 100
Originally released way back in 2006, New Jersey mathcore act Knife The Glitter’s debut EP Breakfast Time got a makeover earlier this year with a remaster from Jaime King (whom you may know as frequent BTBAM collaborator and producer) and a first time ever vinyl pressing from brand new record label Secret Swarm. Back when I ordered this album in February, Secret Swarm was essentially an unknown and unproven entity, whose only prior release was a pre-order for deathcore act Belie My Burial which wouldn’t be delivered for months, and when if finally came through, there were reports of poor quality. The purchase — $42 for a five track, single LP with a pre-order period of over six months — was an anxious one, but curiosity got the best of me and I jumped in once it was clear this record would sell out and never be seen again.
Here we are nine months later, baby fully gestated and delivered by Thanksgiving weekend. As a first impression of the quality I can expect out of Secret Swarm, I’d say that this bodes quite well. The record itself is an interesting color variant that is clearly inspired by the album art’s aesthetics and while ugly in a vacuum, suits the album quite well! The LP is thicker and heavier than I had anticipated, which was nice. The artwork was completely redone, the EP was remastered to sound phenomenal, and the record plays flawlessly. The entire EP sits on the first side, with an untitled bonus track on the B side that seems to feature the band doing an acapella “instrumental” track, which is a fun inclusion.
Since this pre-order dropped, I also copped that Shadow of the Colossus pressing that the label are putting out, which I’m now greatly looking forward to as this release shows that they can deliver, albeit with a hefty price tag. If you’ve seen Secret Swarm gaining hype on social media, give them a look for their most recent (and upcoming) drops. They’ve got a handful of records from Last House On The Left, Pallida Mors, and Rogers Met An Iranian available on their site as of this writing. This one though? Good luck finding it on Discogs.
Sold Out! (Sorry!) | Discogs
Hayworth – A Nostalgic Battle-scar
Industrial Smoke; limited to 100
Wax Vessel Records
Behold, my first ever in-hand Wax Vessel release. I’ve been critical of the label for a long time, but ultimately it’s a nonprofit label ran by one dude who has an entirely unrelated and financially stable career who simply wanted to give high quality presses to extremely niche acts that would literally never get pressed anywhere else. Wax Vessel is instrumental in pushing the art of the vinyl record itself along with the aid of Gotta Groove Records in Ohio, who are responsible for the out-of-this-world Wax Mage pressings. As disappointing as it is that I’ll never own Duck Duck Goose, Cloacal Kiss, or Me and Him Call It Us on vinyl because I whiffed on the drops, they wouldn’t have gotten a vinyl release otherwise anyway. An opportunity to buy more would be nice and the hard NO on represses is a bummer, but the dude only has so much free space in his home and understandably doesn’t want to quit his day job to sling sasscore myspace rips to hipsters online for profit (as much as he’s made clear that this is evidently entirely feasible if you generate the hype). Selling 300 records to 1500 people would certainly make me anxious.
This single discography collection from Rhode Island chaotic hardcore outfit Hayworth (2007 – 2009) is my first taste of WV, and I’ve gotta say that the hype has substance. I’ve got to be honest: I tried my hand at this drop simply because I wanted to utilize a potential grab as leverage for a trade to a band I was more familiar with on the WV roster, but having spun this thing, I can’t imagine wanting to part with it. Not only is the music fantastic. the record sounds incredible and looks quite gorgeous, even for the less limited variant. It’s no Wax Mage or wild labelburst (check the label on IG to see how deep the rabbit hole goes) but it’s easily up there right next to the Psyopus Frankenflame for coolest looking record I own. I haven’t the guts to risk it on a more limited WV variant. I’m just happy to be here, Bob. That gold foil numbered stamp, though. I’m a sucker.
Tips for a successful WV drop? Sign into ShopPay on a desktop BEFORE the drop with all your preferences ready to go. There’s a quickview checkout popup that’ll let you go straight to the cart without fumbling around the page. Futzing with a phone and trying to authenticate your cell phone number is gonna leave you empty handed. I’ll check back in with that iamerror pre-order I grabbed earlier in the year, but I’m sure it’ll be just as incredible.
Sold Out (Sorry!) | Discogs