Napalm Flesh – Re-Issue/Re-Master Chopping list

Posted November 24, 2010 in
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This week is all CD reviews, in particular CD re-issue and re-master reviews—some of these albums have been waiting in the weeds a few months for this re-issue themed blog. Every year albums upon albums are re-issued and re-released, some are worth picking up and some aren’t. The reviews of the albums here are more themed around the quality of the re-issue than the quality of the album because if it’s getting released by another label or released again in some form the music doesn’t need to be judged, but is package does.

Acid Bath
Paegan Terrorism Tactics (Re-Master)
Rotten Records
Street: 07.06.10 (original release date 11.12.96)
Acid Bath = a re-mastered classic + worth owning if you don’t own it
They only released two full-length albums but both have reached legendary status and have influenced countless bands. Yep, they’re southern drug-induced, grind n’ groove legends Acid Bath. Paegan Terrorism Tactics has been a fairly available album since its release through most Internet mail-order sites or the lovely eBay. Rotten Records has given the last album from Acid Bath the re-master treatment and kept the awesome cover art, which is from a painting that Dr. Jack Kevorkian did. In all honesty I’m not a fan of re-masters unless the album sounded like complete garbage previously. PTT never sounded bad, but the re-master takes a fair but not massive hunk out of the rawness and cleans up the original album, though the re-master doesn’t really mess with the performances of any musician (vocalist included) on the album. Really this is just an excuse for people who may have heard of the band but never checked them out to pick it up, especially in the vinyl format. Hopefully the trend of older bands regrouping won’t budge the main musicians that made up Acid Bath to attempt a reunion of sorts. The notable members are still putting out quality metal goodness in the form of singer Dax Riggs’ many projects including Agents of Oblivion and Deadboy & the Elephant Men, as well as Sammy Duet’s notable work in Goatwhore. This record is worth it’s cash expenditure for the downright unbeatable tracks like “Graveflower,” “Locust Spawning,” and “New Death Sensation.” If you already have it, no need to pick up the re-master unless you’re extremely picky about sound quality, but if you don’t have it, well it’s a welcome addition to any metalhead’s album collection. –Bryer Wharton

Control Denied
The Fragile Art of Existence Double CD re-issue
Relapse Records
Street: 10.26 (original release 05.13.99)
Control Denied = a metal masterwork
The validity and overall worth of The Fragile Art of Existence from Control Denied is already the stuff of metal legend. The album has influenced progressive metal and many facets of extreme metal and rightfully so. Chuck Schuldiner created the band and had some mighty metal friends join in on the creation of what would become the final version after a few demos: notable bassist Steve DiGiorgio (personally my favorite metal bassist) who’s played part in many different metal excursions notably, Sadus, Testament, Iced Earth and a whole slew more, along with Drummer Richard Christy also of Iced Earth, Incantation, Charred Walls of the Damned and Demons & Wizards and of course Chuck’s other band you might have heard of—you know, that band called Death, in which DiGiorgio and Christy played an integral role in as well. Tim Aymar handled vocal duties along with other guitarist Shannon Hamm. Control Denied give most of the credit to Chuck Shuldiner (who died tragically in 2001 from Brain Stem cancer) for his always inventive and just jaw dropping guitar work, but every member’s performance on this album is metal legend. When it comes down to it I don’t need to tell you that this album must be owned by any metal fan—you should already have it. The album has been re-issued a few times prior to this release as well as re-mastered. If you’re a stickler on the original recording qualities, the re-master may turn you off. Personally I don’t think the re-master hinders or messes with the original recording, just clarifies the instruments more—Considering all the performances done by the members, this is a good thing. The second disc of this re-issue package is a slew of unreleased demo tracks from 1999 and 1997. Four of the ’99 demos contain no vocals, which is nice for the folks that are death metal fans and might not enjoy the original album’s more traditional-styled metal vocals.  For a real treat, the ’99 demo material includes a version of “Breaking the Broken” with Shuldiner on vocals, which gives some credence that he could’ve done the vocals on the entire album and it still would’ve been great. The end result is this a great reason to pick this album up if you don’t actually own it—the original from Nuclear Blast is out of print and scarce, and the wealth of new stuff contained in this package is worth hunting it down. –Bryer Wharton

Estrangement (re-issue)
Season of Mist
Street: 06.24.10 (original release 08.31.07)
Drudkh = the latest in a series of Drudkh re-issues from Season of Mist
Quite possibly Ukraine’s most influential, notable and less-known-about band, Drudkh are quickly becoming a household name in black metal land. Their ideology of not doing interviews, having photos taken or playing live shows after 8 years of existence still keeps them relatively shrouded in mystery and definitely keeping the focal point on the music and not the band members. Estrangement is the last album the band released on long time label Supernal Music. The band took about a three-year break from releasing anything until their Season of Mist debut Microcosmos, so it makes quite a bit of sense that Season of Mist has gone about releasing the back catalogue from Drudkh. This is a straight re-issue from what I’m certain is the same packaging as the original. A quick eBay search yielded one supposed original unopened copy of the album starting at $15 and re-issues at around $12. So I guess if you’re a stickler for having the original it’s quite possible to get it if you look hard enough. The re-issue from Season of Mist just makes this album much more accessible to purchase. Estrangement isn’t the best work of Drudkh but it’s not the worst either—many fans have a disdain for its predecessor, the completely acoustic Songs of Grief and Solitude. This re-issue isn’t going to spark much interest in collectors, but for someone just seeking out the band’s material, it’s an easy find. –Bryer Wharton

A Bureaucratic Desire for Extra Capsular Extraction
Southern Lord
Street: 10.26 (originally recorded in 1990)
Earth = the beginning of drone/doom   
Officially the collection of songs on this release were supposed to be the now notorious drone/ambient/doom band Earth’s first full-length, but the fact that it was 1990 and music like this made pretty much everyone scratch their head. Some of these songs were released in different forms but never fully together as intended. At the time the line-up for the band consisted of Dylan Carlson (the band’s only remaining original member), Dave Harwell and Joe Preston (of Melvins, High on Fire and Thrones fame). The songs were recorded in Portland, Oregon, as the album liner notes mention among other interesting tidbits. Is this the best Earth material in existence? That’s all arguable. But it is nice to have what was supposed to be the initial full-length experience in one package. The release itself oddly constructs itself musically. The more droning, bass heavy, amplifier worship comes early in the first three tracks, including the 18 + minute sludge-fest “Ourboros is Broken.” After that the music becomes a bit more structured with a slight bit more emphasis on the guitar than the two bassists. Early grunge fanboys may be picking this up solely for the fact that Kurt Cobain lent his vocal talents to a couple tracks—you’ll just have to buy the album to find out which, or look it up on the good ole web. His main performance in one of the songs makes for a stark and eerie track. The original cover art concept for what portion of the album was released as an EP titled Extra-Capsular Extraction in 1990 is not included in the packaging, which consists of new artwork, designed in gloriously detailed grayscale. This is a good addition to collectors and fans of Earth or drone music in general, like fans of Sunn 0)) for instance. Someone new or just discovering the band might be better suited picking up Earth 2 or Phase 3. Regardless this is a very different sound than the band has crafted lately, especially on the Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull. In addition to a CD release, Southern Lord also produced a special mail order gray vinyl limited to 550 copies. Fans of whatever Southern Lord releases will dig this, so go the extra mile and snag the vinyl because drone/doom sounds so much better on 180 gram. –Bryer Wharton

Rising From The Grave (2CD/1DVD boxed set)
Metal Blade
Street: 07.06.10
Helstar = two re-mastered full-length albums and a live DVD from Texas heavy metal heroes
This “boxed-set” unfortunately has to get a half-assed review on my part because all I received to review is the music contained on the two CDs of the boxed set. I can’t judge the packaging at all or the DVD. An search yielded a customer review complaining about the packaging. Honestly I wish I could be more help, bu I haven’t seen this lingering in stores to give its packaging any sort of judgment. What I do know is the two albums re-issued and re-mastered here are beyond classic metal and are landmark releases for Metal Blade records: 1988’s A Distant Thunder and 1989’s Nosferatu. Both are straight up, kick your ass, fist pumping metal—a veritable buffet of glorious riffs, soloing and fancy drumming. The band’s vocalist James Rivera is one of metal’s best and is, unfortunately, often overlooked. The original albums re-issued and re-mastered here are still available for the avid collector to find in some form (most likely used) online at a cheap price, but this is the first official re-issue and re-master of the albums as well as the DVD material of live footage from what was originally just a live album Twas the Night of a Helish X-mas. If you’re a fan of re-masters this collection should appeal to you or if you’re a collection completionist, but in all honesty I can’t judge the full package as mentioned before, only what I received. I would most certainly suggest doing your own research, reading customer and fan reviews, both of which I’ve seen are on either side of the fence. Or if you or the person your purchasing for is a fan just buy the band’s new album Glory of Chaos, which probably supports the band more and might get them to route any touring to your town. –Bryer Wharton

Enemy of the Sun (re-issue)
Street: 08.31.10 (original release 08.17.93)
Neurosis = pretty much started the genre definition of post-metal
Really, what does one need to say about this album. If you’re into metal, hardcore or other realms of extreme music and beyond you know about this landmark release from Neurosis. Yes Souls at Zero was the beginning of Neurosis’ crossover from hardcore and metal to, well, post-metal, but Enemy of the Sun is arguably the first post-metal album ever, but that’s really a moot and debatable point and not what makes Enemy of the Sun as valued an album as it is. No, it’s the album’s amazing musical content that’s influenced countless bands, but yet nothing sounds quite like it. One of a kind pieces of music are few and far between. Enemy of the Sun is one of those mind altering, brain transfixing releases, as well as just something killer to listen to in the background—your focus can lie wherever you want it to with this album. As for unique packaging or extra goodies with this re-release, well this has been re-issued by Neurosis and their label Neurot records before with the same bonus tracks. The original release from Alternative Tentacles is long out of print, so the re-issue makes the album easy to find in stores or online. The packaging actually differs from the original: it still comes in a jewel case but has a nice cardboard sleeve, the artwork is relatively the same with only the band logo and album title cropped into a different place and the liner notes are a bit more minimal than they were on the original. The only reason I know this is because I have an original CD release of the album. Buy this for your kid that listens to and worships Mastodon, Cult of Luna and Isis too much, because without this release none of those bands would exist. –Bryer Wharton

Office of Strategic Influence (re-issue)
Metal Blade
Street: 09.28.10 (original release 02.04.03)
OSI = massive album from massive prog metal super-group
Got a prog rocker in need of something good? OSI’s first album Office of Strategic Influence has been re-issued with three extra tracks, taking on almost 30 more minutes of music to the already epic and diverse prog-rock/metal album. The band at the time of this recording was made up of members of Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Chroma Key, and Gordian Knot. The album is a hefty musical feat with heavy groove prog styled riffing, spacey keyboards, amazing vocal performances, and drummer extraordinaire Mike Portnoy going to town on his kit. Porcupine Tree (which OSI is extremely reminiscent of) vocalist Steve Wilson contributes to the track “Shutdown.” Fans of modern prog-rock/metal can easily enjoy this album if they don’t already own it in some form. This re-issued edition is limited, hence a nice item for collectors and as mentioned contains three extra tracks clocking in at almost 30 minutes that were unreleased until this special release. This release is good for collectors or just those that want to pick up the band’s first record with some bonus goodies. –Bryer Wharton

Spirit The Earth Aflame (re-issue)
Metal Blade
Street: 07.06 (original release 10.31.00)
Primordial = quintessential black/folk/Celtic metal from Ireland
I’m sure you can probably find an original release of this, the third full-length album from Ireland’s Primordial, floating around eBay. Actually a quick search yielded the fact that you can get an unopened original fairly cheaply—cheaper than the re-issue. This is probably one of the more quintessential Primordial albums to own. Yes, the track “Gods to the Godless” is a wildly popular tune, but the album also includes the epic tracks “The Burning Season” and “Children of the Harvest.” Add the fact it comes with a bonus disc with 9 tracks on it—four of them culled from the band’s Dark Romanticism demo as well as some previously released live and cover tracks. The songs on this re-issue have all been released in some matter previously but in limited forms. It’s not an essential re-issue to own, but if you don’t have the material in any form it’s a good way to snag it. –Bryer Wharton 

Infinite (Deluxe Edition)/Polaris + Polaris Live
Street: 07.13 (original release Infinite – 05.00, Polaris 05.15.09)
Stratovarius = two easily obtainable American releases/special editions from well known Finnish melodic power metal band Stratovarius
I’m not exactly following the logic behind the re-issuing and repackaging of these releases—both are already easily obtainable via online mail-order sites and eBay, and Polaris was released only last year. This all feels like the label is jumping on a successful band name and tossing on some extra tracks to make some extra coin. Whatever the reason it doesn’t matter, because both deluxe/re-issued versions are already released and I’m not even going to debate the validity of the music or re-packing of either album. If you’re a fan of Stratovarius’ melodic power metal style, you know where these albums fit in the band’s history and they either have worth and interest for you or they don’t. The Infinite Deluxe Edition of the originally released in 2000 album contains the original album, but the cover artwork is massively cropped leaving much of the original out. The second disc comes with basically all the B-sides that were on the album’s two singles, “Hunting High and Low” and “It’s a Mystery,” plus two live cuts for a total of seven extra songs. The Polaris re-issue/re-pack comes with a full live album with 14 songs from the bands 2009 tour in support of the album. The live disc’s production is decent but not spectacular—the sound is a bit muddled. The key point is that this live album is only available with this new package. So where do either of these wind up in the scheme of things? If you or whomever you might be considering these for already have the albums, they really don’t need these re-issues/re-packs by any means. But if you’re looking for some cheap double disc melodic power metal, these are a cheap means to meeting that need. –Bryer Wharton

Anthology: '88 - '98
Dead City Records
Street: 09.28
Yuppicide = more classic NYC hardcore than you can shake a fist at!
Yes, this is a metal blog and Yuppicide are definitively a traditional hardcore band, but the two genres go hand in hand—in my opinion each genre has influenced the other. If you have a gripe that Yuppicide is being reviewed/talked about in a metal blog, maybe you listen to too much Manowar. The future of Yuppicide at the moment is uncertain. The band did a round of touring in Europe in October, and this Anthology of basically everything the band has released (studio recording-wise) was an excellent precursor not only to that tour but the fact that the band may return fully. If you’re closet is full of hardcore and punk 7” splits, you may already be familiar with this spirited DIY hardcore act. I had only heard the name of the band prior to delving into every studio musical nuance they recorded from 1988 to 1998, and hell I’m glad I got to listen to it. It’s classic hardcore all the way, some of which I’d say beats a good chunk of what Agnostic Front has done. The experience of this anthology has led me down a path to snag some of the original releases, because well, it’s just awesome, grooving, bass-heavy, nothing-fancy-but-just-fun-as-punching-clowns-in-their-big-red-noses hardcore. Really the only thing better than having this Anthology on CD would be to have it in some fantastic vinyl package. Nevertheless, the Anthology is two discs and 58 songs, and over two and a half hours worth of music containing everything the band released, including demo material and all re-mastered by NYC hardcore legend and Yuppicide associate Don Fury. If you’re a fan of NYC hardcore or just hardcore in general you may not love every little track on this release, but its musical wealth is grandiose and awesomely fun. The re-master is questionable only in the sense that it equals the sound out between releases and possibly takes away from the genuine raw style the band had. Either way it’s still fun and more importantly comes with a huge booklet/insert that not only goes over band history but contains every awesome lyric. This is an excellent offering for your hardcore and punk loving friend, co-worker, loved one or most importantly yourself. Who doesn’t want their family to start a circle pit around the Christmas tree! –Bryer Wharton