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Heavy Blog Is Analog // May 2024

A roundup of new metal vinyl, including the much hyped new Knocked Loose LP, a first-ever vinyl pressing of The Red Chord's debut album, and some stunning handmade records from a couple of Myspace-era deathcore darlings.

19 days ago

We said we'd be back with a quick turnaround, and here we are once again with an array of metal on wax to flip through. If you were early to the last edition of this column you caught that we changed Heavy Buys to Analog is Heavy but had to do a quick and dirty edit with a second new column title Heavy Blog Is Analog after being politely informed that our newly chosen name was in use by an existing entity and we were already creating a muck with all things Google and SEO considerations, and truth be told, we can only care so much about what this specific column is called. So here we are: Heavy Blog Is Analog! Our vinyl column!

This pivot opens us up to not only talk about new purchases on wax, but for potential deep dives in existing and long-lost grails and gems in out collections as well as opportunities to talk vinyl care and industry developments if the need arises. Often, the greater industry movements don't interest us too much, but the last few weeks have been a rollercoaster. Let's do a couple of quick hits:

Subscription service Vinyl Me Please ousted and is suing their CEO and CFO due to business disagreements related to a new pressing plant that was formed by the duo in hopes of solving pandemic supply-chain issues for the service and easing the backlog and turnaround times for their releases. I seem to recall thinking this plant was owned and operated under the VMP umbrella, but according to reporting done by The Denver Post, this plant was independently owned and operated by the now former CEO and CFO and according to a lawsuit, the two are alleged to have mislead the public that the plant and VMP are one entity and that the two have not only funneled company money into this separate business entity project of theirs, but they failed to deliver what they promised, stating, "To date, the pressing plant has not demonstrated the ability to press vinyl records in a timely or professional manner."

This is rough news for the industry. It's not immediately clear what this means for VMP or the pressing plant, but I seem to recall having high hopes that this move for VMP to have its own dedicated source for vinyl manufacturing would have been a great thing to assist in the massive turnaround times we saw during the pandemic. Some bands close to the site said they had to sit on their albums for a year or more just to wait on vinyl during peak activity. Here's hoping that that third party plant can weather the storm and be of some benefit to either VMP or other entities that need them.

There's some other news as well: Equal Vision Records – home to some of the most pivotal post-hardcore records of all time including albums from Coheed and Cambria, Circa Survive, and Fall of Troy – have purchased Burlington Record Plant and will relocate them to Albany, NY. We're embedding the Facebook post below:

On first glance, it would appear that this is a wholesome move wherein Equal Vision is teaming up with Burlington Record Plant to create a brand new pressing plant, but the reality is that the old plant will close and move. It looks like we won't have a problem getting those classic Equal Vision records in the future if plans work out, but what does this mean for the greater music community? Metallica did a similar move of buying out an existing plant to secure their own needs. I'm not mad at the news; it actually helps secure the future of this plant to have a greater business entity backing it, but I would like to see more pressing plants being built successfully.

I've been in the hobby collecting since I picked up Between the Buried and Me's Alaska on clear vinyl way back in 2009 at their merch booth, and am in awe of the exponential growth year-over-year since then, when vinyl was a niche collectors novelty and now a hugely popular avenue of selling and listening to music. If it becomes a dead format again, I'm not sure what I'll end up doing with all this shelf space, but to me, it makes sense to have a physical product like this, even with the proliferation of streaming. Hopefully we can reach a point to where it's a bit more sustainable than seeing thousands of copies of Adele's last album being shoveled in and out of thrift stores. Do we need twelve variants of the new Taylor Swift record? So far so good, I guess; wait times are down and vinyl is still consistently selling more year-over-year. Hopefully the bubble doesn't pop.

-Jimmy Rowe

Arsonists Get All The Girls - Listen to the Color

Handmade Glitter Infinity Splatter [Limited to 50, hand numbered out of 500]
Silent Pendulum Record

My relationship with this album and band is a complicated one. I had been a fan of California’s experimental and progressive deathcore act Arsonists Get All The Girls for years, coming across them during the MySpace era of mathcore, proto-deathcore, and false grind. My fandom really took off when the group dropped Portals in 2009, and that album remains on my own shortlist of best deathcore albums of all time thanks to the irreverent genre-bending and playful use of keyboards and other progressive elements. 

Years later, the band would go through tumultuous lineup changes and internal conflict which would see them fizzling out, but not before they would release their swansong Listen to the Color in 2013, which was a return to their grind-influenced original sound with returning original vocalist Remi Rodburg. It easily leapt over Portals as my favorite Arsonists Get All The Girls album and was one of my top albums of 2013. As part of the album cycle, the band teased a return to the road and opened a crowdfunding campaign to get a new van. As part of this funding campaign, the band sold pre-orders for the vinyl pressing of Listen to the Color, and I purchased one. 

Years came and went since then with nothing to show for it, and I admit to being passive-aggressive about it publicly in comment sections here and there, venting my frustrations where I could. I wouldn’t go out of my way or anything, but when the topic came up, I felt comfortable expressing my frustrations with how the band had ended. On one occasion, a member of the band using the band’s Facebook page reached out privately and explained the situation away as bad dealings with a terrible third party merch distributor. For what it’s worth, I heard rumblings elsewhere that the final dissolution of Arsonists ended up coming from a band member either absconding with or misusing band funds ultimately meant to go towards merch fulfilment and getting the van secured for touring. The band attempted to resolve the issue with me privately by offering to mail me a shirt, but they didn’t have any shirts available in my size, so I declined. 

To his credit, keyboard player Sean Richmond reached out to me on a mutual friend’s post discussing the band’s final album just last year around its ten year anniversary with an offer to send me his personal test press copy to make it right. It didn’t feel right to take this piece of memorabilia from him; after all, he was a relative late-comer to the band and was a fan first before he joined, and I wanted him to keep this trophy of the accomplishment he and the band made with that final record. It took a decade, but in that moment, I finally let it go.

Shortly after putting that all behind me, on the edge of the album’s ten year anniversary, Silent Pendulum Records announced a repress of the album in a slew of incredible pressings, including wax mages and handmade wares that had me salivating. I knew I must have one in order to complete my character arc. Between the two most limited options, the handmade stood out most to me as an attractive variant, and as it was the second most limited at 50 copies and double the availability as the wax mages, I assumed I had a pretty good window of opportunity if I shot straight for it. I prepared with an alarm set for twenty minutes early so I could get situated on the SPR webstore and sign into Shop Pay well before the checkout process so I wouldn't be caught up on waiting for an SMS code.

It was that simple; one of the biggest missing pieces in my collection and most-wanted albums of all time was secured, with a decade of frustration in the background coming to fruition. I didn't even stop to look at the price tag on it; a whopping $76.50 after shipping, which I have reservations about in hindsight, but there's no way I wasn't going to buy this, regardless of price. Silent Pendulum are an invaluable resource to the scene in preserving and maintaining interest in the mathcore community (and related genres) with these classic represses they've been doing, but their pricing has increasingly been on the edge of acceptability. I understand the inflated prices on wax mages and handmade variants, but even the more standard editions are going for $50 after shipping is factored in, and for a single LP, that's nuts.

I'm torn. Items like this simply wouldn't exist otherwise, and traditional labels are often not gambling on these niche LPs. I can only imagine labels like SPR run part-time skeleton crews as a passion project, it's just a shame that the hobby is getting so expensive. I harp on this every time, I know, and I keep spending the money. This was always going to be an exception though, due to the nature of this pressing and the personal relevance that this album has on me makes the value worth it. I've paid more for second-hand out of print records that aren't nearly as nice as this.

As I've discussed in these spaces before, I don't know what a handmade LP is or how it's different from your standard procedure LP crafting, but this hunk of plastic is the most unique and colorful record in my collection thus far. As usual, photos don't do it justice. The glitter and pockets of clear catch the light in ways the camera can't, and it's a wonderful piece to have in the collection. Both sides have a wildly different texture and rhythm to the stripes and splatters, and I'm a fan of it. Suitably kaleidoscopic, just like the album pressed within it.

The gatefold is nice as well, with a half-inch reinforced spine and generally without flaw upon arrival. There are lyrics on the left inside panel and the album's original walrus artwork on the left with credits. No inserts or anything inside, just fairly bare bones but high quality. Plus, the hand numbering is actually on the jacket on the back, which we love to see.

When it comes to playback, it's nearly flawless. The album's quieter moments closer to the edge of the record, especially moments with just synthesizers, tend to be spotty with noise, particularly the introduction "Setting Course For Disaster." When the full band is grinding away, it sounds fantastic. This is ultimately an invaluable piece in my collection and I'll be holding onto it tightly.

It goes without saying, but this edition sold out immediately, and I'm fortunate enough to get one, but there are several other variants available, and this album is a classic as far as I'm concerned, even though my enjoyment of it was shadowed so many times by the way the band fell apart. This is the crowning achievement of the Arsonists Get All The Girls discography and worth circling back to if you've got the money and interest. An alternative artwork edition of Portals is also still available for those interested, and rumor has it, the label is working their way backwards for the band's earlier releases. Keep your eyes open!

Sold Out, Sorry! (Other variants available at Silent Pendulum) | Discogs

-JR


Better Lovers - God Made Me An Animal

White/Gold Half & Half w/ Splatter [Anniversary Edition /1000]
SharpTone

A rare situation where waiting to buy an album has paid off. As Better Lovers made their debut as a band, I was hesitant to give them a shot. The Dillinger Escape Plan is at the top of the mountain for me, and although it's been nearly seven years since their final show as an active band, I still wasn't quite prepared for Greg's next big Dillinger-like project. I wouldn't call myself a huge fan of Every Time I Die either, but the way both bands broke up in less than friendly terms, to see such an alliance formed by factions from both bands wasn't an immediate good look to me, especially since I empathized more with Ben Weinman and Keith Buckley's stories in either band's dissolution.

The band's debut single "30 Under 13" was an undeniable banger, and it most certainly scratched that Dillinger itch, but at that time, I wasn't quite prepared to pay full-length price for EP-length playback so I let that God Made Me An Animal EP come and go. In the year since, the band released two further standalone singles, most recently the absolutely devastating and maniacal mathcore rager "The Flowering," and I've been sufficiently sold on Better Lovers.

Now as we cross the one year anniversary of the band's debut EP, they've pressed up 1000 copies with the two new singles tacked on, which is a rare dub for those who couldn't (or wouldn't) get in on the ground floor. If I felt like I was in a position to buy this EP twice, I could imagine feeling a certain way about it. But this is the perfect storm for me to finally get involved. The band split their cache in half – 500 records for their online store and 500 for the road – and after some coercion from the band's social media stories posting sporadic updates on the quickly dwindling quantities available, I snuck in just in time to grab one of the last remaining copies before they sold out hours later. FOMO at work, even when we've gained an advantage by waiting on a second chance.

I've made a purchase from a SharpTone Records artist before – Loathe, no less! – so I was confident in their ability to deliver a great product, and I was right. The single-sleeve jacket, has some incredible use of gloss and texture to make the foreground and border pop out from the background. Unfortunately, the jacket did come with corner dings and seam splits, which is unfortunate, but that was never anything I ever made a stink about so long as the unit was intact and did its job. Plus: the numbering in on the jacket itself and not a sticker or card, another win.

There's a die cut inner sleeve which houses the record and adds a cool interactive element to the artwork, but the most ardent vinyl collectors I know, including myself, remove their discs from these types of inner sleeves for long term storage anyway. It's a nice thought though! In addition to the record itself, they've also included a couple of stickers, each one with a QR code for discounts on their merch store, so that's sick.

The disc itself plays absolutely flawlessly. The band sounds so incredible, and the Will Putney production and quality of the pressing itself does them a huge service. Plus, the half and half variant looks great. A black and pink swirl would have been a cool nod to the art, but I'm not mad at it providing a nice contrast. At $37 shipped, it may be a bit pricey for an EP, but I suppose the materials would cost the same whether they crammed one track or twenty on here, what with the quality of the pressing and packaging. At the end of the day, I'm excited to have this and cannot wait for a proper full-length.

Sold Out Online (Sorry! More are available on tour?) | Discogs

-JR


Dead and Dripping - Blackened Cerebral Rifts

Pink Merge w/ Blue Splatter [limited to /100]
Transcending Obscurity Records


It turns out, one-man technical brutal death metal projects are some of the best death metal you'll ever come across. In recent memory, Anal Stabwound, Nithing, and Dead and Dripping have come out with some extraordinary records in both tech and brutality. The latter act's latest LP Blackened Cerebral Rifts is the band's best, and naturally, was one of the best records of 2023. It was their first for Transcending Obscurity, who has made a name for themselves in recent years as a label specializing in the cutting edge of extreme and experimental metal, so I was excited to make my first ever purchase from the label.

I knew that the final product would be something special from the product descriptions online. In fact, I'm just going to copy that here:

These are high quality LPs that are imported from the best plants in Europe. There's only one variant for this outstanding release which is strictly limited and hand-numbered to 100 copies worldwide. The thick gatefold sleeves have a beautiful metallic effect all over and there's even raised UV lamination done on parts of the layout. The jaw-dropping artwork by Jason Barnett looks amazing here. Each LP comes with a hand-numbered card and download codes.

I know it's flowery PR verbiage, but it's all incredibly accurate. It's difficult to capture in photos, but the packaging is incredible and unlike anything I've ever purchased. The metallic and UV effects just make this record pop off the shelf. My only qualm is that when it comes to hand-numbering, I prefer that right on the LP's jacket, but I've seen worse numbering gambits. I'm always a fan of gatefold jackets though, even when they aren't necessary, and the heavier the better.

This 45-minute album is pressed on a single LP and the variant here is as stunning as the cover. I adore the care the label took in securing a pressing with coloring that is consistent with the artwork. The record is flat and plays flawlessly, which was something I was worried about since this is an overseas import; I suppose that's more of a summer issue and this came over in the winter, but a couple of warps and dings from rough global shipments can leave you hypervigilant. On the other side of the coin, as the label is based in India, I had assumed shipping would have been a nightmare, but this was quite affordable at a mere $10. There are labels within the continental US charging $12 or more for domestic media mail! All told, this cost me just shy of $40 USD shipped, and for something that approached the top of my albums of the year list, that's a fair price at this level of quality. Be on notice: if you love weird extreme metal and collect physical media, start looking at Transcending Obscurity if you aren't already.

Sold Out (Sorry!) | Discogs

-JR


Civerous - Maze Envy

B2 - Ultra Clear / Royal Blue / Deep Purple Galaxy
20 Buck Spin

Civerous' Maze Envy was one of the most hyped death metal albums in the first half of 2024, which isn't shocking considering 20 Buck Spin are consistently churning out death metal records that top year-end lists. Maze Envy is the exact type of ilk you'd expect from the label, with a weirdo prog OSDM vibe that fans of Tomb Mold would go rabid for. It being 20BS and all, it was an easy sale, and after the album's release, I made sure to purchase a copy for myself and chose the B2 variant as the mockup looked phenomenal.

Reality vs Digital Mockup

The final product didn't look quite as majestic as I was lead to believe. I underestimated how translucent the record would be despite the "ultra clear" coming in right at the top; it's just that I've seen some ultra-clear merges and galaxies that have swathes and pockets of clear amidst the melted-through opaque colors, but this one seemed to turn out less of a galaxy and more of a translucent blue. If you get close, you can see ribbons and strands in the wax of the coloring, but this record is perhaps the one with the biggest disparity between the mockup and the final product. I mean, I knew this was possible, and the label states as much in bold letters on every page you can order vinyl from, and it's not like I'm particularly upset about it or anything; just an observation.

This release is a tried and true 20BS affair, and I mean that with all the love in my heart. No real bells and whistles; just a killer death metal record in a single sleeve jacket. There's a two-sided print insert with band photos, liner notes, and lyrics, as well as some subtle flair with the inside of the jacket being printed purple. I've said it time and time again, but death metal just sounds great on vinyl due to its loud, raw energy not leaving a lot of room for artifacts like popping or surface noise to shine through, and this Civerous LP is no different. Even on the clear vinyl, which is alleged to inferior in sound quality to standard black or natural PVC, I experienced no sound issues.

I stump for 20 Buck Spin every chance I get. They're trying their best to stay true to the promise in their name and keeping prices affordable. Standard black vinyl starts at $20.99, with the more limited pressings pushing $25. This one's somewhere in the middle at $23.99, or just a hair over $30 after shipping domestically. I would imagine you can land a standard black at your local record store upon request for no more than $22 in the States. It's death metal and doesn't need to be fancy, so go with that. We're just here for the riffs anyway.

Available for purchase at 20 Buck Spin | Discogs

-JR


Frail Body - Artificial Bouquet

Black & Red Mix with Splatter [limited to 1000]
Deathwish Inc.

We’re following up one of the best death metal LPs of 2024 so far with the single greatest sceamo record we’ve heard in years with Frail Body’s celebrated sophomore album Artificial Bouquet. I was late to the game here and spun the a album's pre-release single "Devotion" and I was immediately onboard with the band's emoviolence and subtly post-metal take on scramz. I sauntered over to my local indie record store and they ordered the indie exclusive Beer/Red Cornetto variant, limited to 500. Unfortunately, the record store was not sent the indie exclusive, but the most widely available variant at 1000 units. No sleep lost there, but about two weeks later, the record store was eventually sent the indie exclusive. Whacky behavior.

Regardless of the variant in question, I just wanted the album because it's easily an early highlight to 2024. The album is devastating, blending screamo, post-metal, powerviolence, and the slightest touch of black metal. The variant here matches the artwork and aesthetic well with the exact shades of blue, black, and red coming through. One side is a bit more "expressive" than the other, but that's just a part of the fun variance you get in the process.

The packaging is fairly cool as well, with some UV spot gloss on the blue sigil and tracklist on either side of the jacket. The record is housed inside of a thick printed inner sleeve with additional artwork and band logo on one side and lyrics on the other. The center labels on the LPs don't make it immediately obvious which side is A or B, and usually the runouts along the center deadwax is helpful with clues, but not this time. Turns out, the side with half the symbol is side A. Perhaps a bit obvious in hindsight.

The audio production on this album is more of a wash of sound than a punchy, bombastic hardcore record, so putting this record on may be relatively jarring depending on what you've put on before this. The sound isn't flat exactly, but there's just not a lot of headroom. That's a part of the record's charm for sure, given that, you know, it's screamo. I'm also not sure if it's me and my setup, but there's a good amount of vinyl artifacts in the playback during this record's quieter moments after a surface and needle cleaning and swipes with an antistatic brush. Nothing out of the realm of acceptability, however.

All in all, at the ballpark of $25, a solid purchase for one of the year's best as we round the corner of the first half. As always, if you can get this at the local record store, should you have such a privilege, be sure to ask them to look into ordering this for you so you can save on shipping.

This variant and others available at Deathwish | Discogs

-JR


Inter Arma - New Heaven

Black, White, and Blue Merge with Splatter [limited to 147]
Relapse Records

Few bands tickle my fancy like Inter Arma. They’re simply one of the most interesting bands going this side of 2010, unafraid of vacuuming up anything extreme and expelling a distinctly fresh and distinctly Inter Arma thing. New Heaven feels like they’ve taken this up as a challenge with some of their most diverse work yet, covering so much ground that it’s not a stretch for me to believe it’s inspired by their recent covers record. It’s a little country, it’s a little rock ‘n’ roll, it’s a little psychedelic-progressive-blackened-death-doom-sludge.

As with my other entries in this month’s column, I’m a huge fan of this band’s output, vinyl included. New Heaven is another mystifying entry in their discography, and the physical package is just as impressive. I’m a sucker for spot gloss, and this album does a great job of balancing dark and light with it. From the luminous flashlight(?) spot on the cover to the light/dark interplay of the lyrics on the inner gatefold to the black-on-black tracklisting on the reverse, it all looks dope and plays with this kind of invisible quality. It feels thought out for the physical format, and it adds a refined touch.

The wax is absolutely gorgeous. I think this is the only three-color merge and splatter in my collection, if only because I can’t believe how great this looks compared to so many of my muddy/uneven merges and splatters. It’s random how this shit looks, but this is a real stunner for me, especially given how many of my other Relapse vinyl have turned out. The colors are vibrant on every level, fitting with the eerie, snowy, and desolate layout of the jacket. I dig the reverse-colored A/B labels for a uniform-yet-obviously-different feel, and as with their prior releases, it sounds fucking wonderful — as an AOTY contender should.

Sold Out (Other variants here) | Discogs

-JJ


Knocked Loose - You Won't Go Before You're Supposed To

Indie Exclusive Green and Yellow w/ Black & White Splatter [/2500]
Pure Noise Records

Kentucky's pride and joy and the biggest band in hardcore at the moment Knocked Loose just dropped the most hyped heavy album of the year, and as a Kentuckian and fan of extreme music, I got swept up in the hype, swinging the flag of the Commonwealth in tempo the whole way down. It's not just getting adoration and attention from fans of hardcore and metalcore; it's recently hit the news that Knocked Loose charted higher on viral song charts the week after release than Taylor Swift, Anthony Fantano gave it a 9/10 (certified yellow flannel!), Pitchfork gave it an 8/10, and it's currently sitting in the top 10 albums of 2024 on Rate Your Music. It's safe to say that THIS is the token Heavy Album that the mainstream are sending up, but at least this time, it seems to be warranted.

I never gave Knocked Loose much attention in the past, admittedly and shamefully, but after hearing the first two singles on this one – "Don't Reach For Me" and "Blinding Faith" – I went back and bought up the records that my local record store could get from the distributor, A Tear In The Fabric Of Life and A Different Shade of Blue. I also pre-ordered the indie exclusive for this one and have since pre-ordered a repressing of Laugh Tracks. I suppose you could say it's getting serious.

I've ordered records from Pure Noise artists in the past, like Chamber and SeeYouSpaceCowboy, and have had no qualms with their quality before and this release is no different. We've got an affordable and good quality LP and gatefold package here that I can't find fault in. A printed inner sleeve features a cutout window for the record's center label and additional artwork, and the gatefold features lyrics and credits. No download code that I could find despite the sticker on the front saying otherwise.

The disc itself is quite nice and I'm a fan of the half and half splatter variant being consistent with the trees and cross' glow on the cover. The disc is nice and flat as well with no noticeable flaws. It plays pretty good as well with respect to noise and other vinyl audio artifacts; once you're out of the dead wax on the edge of the record, the quiet intro on "Thirst" is crystal clear. However, the mastering on vinyl seems to be a bit muddy compared to the digital counterpart while A/B-ing them on my speakers, but there's also a chance that my Grado Black stylus is approaching its twilight after four years. Whether it's my turntable system or the record's audio itself, it isn't a dealbreaker, especially under $30 and without any noise.

There's about a dozen or more variants of this floating around, and it's worth pursuing if you're into hardcore or metalcore at all and want to participate in the biggest metal album of 2024. Go to your local record store, they'll order it for you along with any one of the band's past albums that the label are repressing, wisely capitalizing off the hype.

Available at your local record store (other variants available online) | Discogs


The Plasmarifle - While You Were Sleeping, The World Forever Changed In An Instant

Negative Light, Negative Bright [Clear With Splatter and Negative Space /50]

Arsonists wasn't the only ultra-limited handmade record from a MySpace-era false grind / deathcore band that I was able to score in 2024's early months. Criminally forgotten and short-lived progressive deathcore act The Plasmarifle's 2008 album While You Were Sleeping got the Wax Mage and Handmade treatment from Heathen Hand Records in a one-and-done Wax Vessel-style drop back in February, and it's a doozy.

Since Wax Vessel, there have been a few similar labels popping up in the underground with the duty and burden of immortalizing these forgotten millenial core classics, many of them in collaboration and in spite of each other. The boutique limited-edition vinyl label scene is rife with tumult, and I try to remain as ignorant to it as I can as a fan of all these different bands. There's tale of one label cancelling orders from fans of another label, and I don't know what to make of it all. I just want the shiny plastic with the breakdowns and panic chords etched on them.

Anyway, one such label among this horde is Heathen Hand, and this is the first time I've been able to nab one of their pressings. I fondly remember The Plasmarifle in highschool and grabbing this album off one of the Blogspots with Mediafire links back in the day, as was tradition. The story here is the same as the Arsonists rundown above; the second-most limited variant (limited to 50) was the most attractive to me, so I took advantage to shoot straight for number two while the hordes run towards the wax mage. This time, there was the added benefit of there being not just one variant limited to 25, but two variants limited at 50, so my chances were decent. As always, log into Shop Pay early so you don't have to wait for two-factor authentication and risk getting cart-jacked.

The checkout process was a success, and again, the anxiety and tension of drop time made me look over the pricetag of $83.41 after shipping. Q1 2024 was a learning experience for me; those limited options in this scene will have you paying almost twice as much. Is this MySpace-era proto-Sumeriancore record worth over $80? I'm not so sure. Circling back, the more plain and widely available variants started at $45 USD, likely over $50 after shipping, so either way, unless you're old and financially stable and have some sort of sentimental attachment to this era of music, don't bother with these types of drops. And this is before I even get into the actual review of the physical product, and I don't think I'm alienating anybody at any labels by saying it either, as these things fly off the shelves pretty quickly and these labels certainly have a dedicated audience.

There was also a hiccup in getting this record, as I had missed a post on Facebook that said new customers must follow up with the label via email or DM so that the label could "manually verify" my order in an attempt to combat flippers and people acting in bad faith. A very pleasant back and forth with Kyle at the label, and my record was on the way. I've never experiences such a thing before, but if it means people aren't cheating the system and bots aren't scooping records up, all the better. It helps to pay attention and to not be afraid to communicate.

That wasn't at all to say that this isn't a phenomenal pressing, because it certainly is; just look at it! I've seen this type of handmade "negative space" pressing before from photos of pressings put out by Wax Vessel, but was never able to secure one before due to sheer timing or hedging my bets on less limited units. Looking at Side A of this disc in real life is surreal. Side B isn't a slouch either, but it's clearly the "bottom" of whatever process it takes to get this result.

The gatefold jacket is a nice heavy cardstock, and the back has a foil-stamped numbering just like the Wax Vessel releases. Both labels use the same pressing plants, so it checks out. Other goodies include a lyric booklet, a Heathen Hand Records sticker that utilizes assets from the album artwork (again, something Wax Vessel does), and a spare Wax Mage center label as a neat little souvenir.

Playback and audio quality is mostly great, but there's a stretch of the B side that has some consistent intermittent popping, but it's not a complete dealbreaker. The record received a bit of a facelift by way of a remaster, but the genre and sound are very much of the era in which it was borne. There's hints of Arsonists Get All The Girls and The Contortionist here, albeit without the keyboards, so if that's your jam, it's worth revisiting in some form. But not on vinyl though, because that's done and over with. Discogs has it for $175 though, so maybe I shouldn't complain so much about how much I'm paying for these things.

This and all variants are sold out (sorry!) | Discogs


The Red Chord - Fused Together In Revolving Doors

Clear/Blue Marble [IndieMerch Exclusive]
Black Market Activities

At long, long last, it appears that proto-deathcore and deathgrind legends The Red Chord are getting the vinyl treatment, beginning with their 2002 debut Fused Together In Revolving Doors. I wouldn't come into discovering and appreciating the band in a meaningful capacity until 2009's Fed Through The Teeth Machine, but in the years since, I've worked my way back and found the band absolutely incredible with the way they bridged death metal, grind, and metalcore before deathcore became its own movement. This era, along with works from Glass Casket and Silent Circus-era Between the Buried and Me is highly specific and we don't get to hear it much anymore outside of rare acts like Blindfolded and Led to the Woods. It's good to go back.

This also marks as the return of frontman Guy Kozowyk's Black Market Activities label, which has been on hiatus along with the band in recent years, and it seems that Guy was very hands-on with this release. The Red Chord revisit their debut with a line of records, with the usual suspects like Revolver getting one-off exclusive and limited variants that have long since sold out, but in general, the number of available units haven't been published by the band or label, so there seems to be subtext here that the intention was that the records would be available to anyone who wants one in the near future.

The band posts via Facebook:

"We wanted to capture a period-specific vibe with the layout, while making something special. We focused on keeping the pricing reasonable while making a realistic quantity available for folks that can’t race to the internet for quick vinyl drops."

I felt comfortable not being ready to go at drop-time, but did manage to get one within a couple of hours. I'm glad I didn't wait though, because while drafting this post and before publishing time, all of the variants have sold out. I suppose it's rarely a good idea to wait.

As I said above, this specific variant is quite attractive, and I love how it matches the artwork. I've just not seen a record quite like this one. The record comes in a standard LP outer sleeve with a paper inner sleeve that you'll likely be discarding anyway. The album includes a four panel insert designed to look like a file folder with lyrics, liner notes, classic live photos, and what looks like a more recent photo of the band's lineup on the back panel. A nice inclusion to contrast the decades since the recording, however anachronistic it may be. When it comes to playback: no notes. This release plays wonderfully, and this record hits like a wrecking ball. All told, this was available for around $30 after shipping. Not terrible!

In various comments across social media, people are asking for 2005's Clients next, and The Red Chord are liking those comments, so I'd imagine that it's on the docket once this window and the band's upcoming run of shows are closed. Fingers crossed that they can get through the whole discography! If you can find a copy before it sells out completely, don't sleep on it, but signs point to a potential second pressing at some point.

Sold out, sorry! | Discogs

-JR

Heavy Blog

Published 19 days ago