Tombs 3xLP Discography
King of The Monsters
Unruh = Catharsis + Terrorizer + Groundwork
The third disc is comprised of 7”s and unreleased demos. Compilations of material like this further support the document vs. crucial listen theory—but to be fair, that’s the case when things like this are included as a part of most albums. It’s nice to have every version of a song recorded and to trace its unique history, and the hardcore rule seems to be that bands can release some of their best material as a demo or 7” so it’s good to be able to dig in here. It’s pleasantly surprising that the “all of the other stuff” element of this discography contains listenable material, including the band’s unreleased demos. They, fortunately, don’t sound like a rabid dog barking and knocking over trash cans in a hallway.
So, what’s the verdict? Unruh hailed from AZ in the ’90s and certainly had an impact on the scene there, even if they didn’t have monumental success nationwide. This may not be an essential collection of ’90s underground music, but it is a document, and an illustrative one at that. With ’90s nostalgia ever on the rise, it’s the perfect time to look back and see just what was going on 20 years ago. –Peter Fryer
Grudge City Activities Mix Tape Vol. 1
Grudge City Activities
Mix Tape = SLC Hardcore 2009
The size, popularity and volatility of the Salt Lake hardcore scene has ebbed and flowed over the years, and it only takes a cursory glance at the posts on grudgecityactivities.com to realize this. However volatile and large or small, the scene is (I remember packed shows at Bricks back in the late 90s and small shows in band practice spaces) something that is never absent is intensity. GCA put together this compilation as a document of what’s going on in the Salt Lake hardcore scene currently and in true DIY hardcore fashion, it’s free. The comp features 10 unreleased tracks by a slew of bands including: City to City, Reviver, Dogwelder, Tamerlane and Glacial, to name a few. It’s amazing how far the history goes back with members of each of the groups on the comp and is a testament to the “never say die” attitude of the hardcore scene. Musically, a span of hardcore-related genres are represented—from the heavy, to fast punk infused, to experimental. I’ve always liked hardcore comps because they show the diversity that can be found in an oftentimes one-note genre. The thing that is striking about Salt Lake’s hardcore music is that it has such a unique sound that is decidedly Salt Lake. Whether this is because of the cultural atmosphere or the isolated locale, I don’t know, but one thing is for sure: if it’s from Salt Lake, you know it. If you haven’t checked out Salt Lake’s hardcore since Triphammer and Clear were kicking around, this comp is not only a good reference point, but it’s free, so there’s no reason not to give it a spin. Here’s to the past days of DV8 basement shows and the like, and to the future of Salt Lake hardcore.
Rocky Mountain District
Goodbye Blue Sky
Rocky Mountain District = Touche Amore + Pianos Become the Teeth + Orchid
For the past few years, bands have been rescuing the screamo moniker from its relegated position as an evil music genre epithet, a cause furthered by Rocky Mountain District. Brandishing their swords and screams proudly, and recording their performance in brilliant lo-fi glory, any notions of the negative connotation of emo and screamo are cast aside. The most noticeable aspect of Goodbye Blue Sky is how raw and lo-fi the recording is. For the musical genre equivalent of an exposed raw nerve, this choice is impeccable. Lest they tread on worn ground, Rocky Mountain District let their songs flow, avoiding the 1:30 running times of many of their peers, giving their spacey guitars time to breathe and swirl in front of you. This release feels very live and alive, and as a free download on their bandcamp, there is no excuse not to grab a copy.
Esther = Touche Amore + La Dispute + End of a Year
Esther’s self-released EP, Common Choirs, finds its groove in the post-hardcore/ screamo realm—it would sit well on the shelf next to late ’90s/early ’00s genre releases. The hallmark heart-on-your-sleeve, metaphorical lyrics are abundant, just waiting to be turned into tattoos/T-shirts/Facebook status updates, and are backed by emotive guitar lines that dip into heavier territory than others of this genre might. The only real complaint about the album is the inclusion of double bass drum kicks. For some reason, it doesn’t fit the style, but they occur infrequently enough as to not be a deal breaker. The guitar tones that appear halfway through “Exotically Common” are reminiscent of the bluesy tones of the White Stripes—a welcome departure. The album is a free download on bandcamp, and has enough for fans of this genre to warrant a download.
It was an interview that almost didn’t happen. After not one, but two failed attempts at speaking with Power Trip frontman Riley Gale, it seemed that this piece wasn’t to be. Fortunately, a third go found SLUG and Gale on the phone discussing everything from the awesome, “WTF” lineup of Power Trip’s upcoming tour and new material to graphic novels and the militarization of police. SLUG caught up with Gale about their upcoming tour and future plans.
Power Trip turned heads in 2013 with their full-length debut, Manifest Decimation. Even though crossover thrash is well-worn territory, Power Trip have the secret sauce. It might be their background in the DIY hardcore scene, the reverb on the vocals and drums, their impeccable riffing or their detonating live show—regardless, they have it. If you’re going to see them play, come prepared to be stage-dived upon—a lot. Conversing with Gale is smooth. He’s laid back and thoughtful in his responses, lacking the pretension you might expect from someone who often mentions Michel Foucault in interviews. It’s not all that surprising if you’ve ever seen Power Trip live. They may tackle important topics, but first and foremost, they are there to blast riffs and have fun.
Gale and the rest of Power Trip are about to head out on tour with Title Fight and Merchandise, which is such an eclectic and bonkers lineup that it would be criminal not to catch it. As Gale says, “We’ve talked about doing stuff like this in the past, and it’s kinda been like ‘too weird, too weird.’ Now we’re just kind of like, ‘Fuck it—let’s do it.’” That’s as sound of a sales pitch for a tour package as any. Power Trip are the common link between Title Fight and Merchandise, having known both bands for a few years now. Gale is more excited than anything to just “hang out with those dudes” and is pretty sure that anyone who digs the spectrum of genres represented on the tour “has good taste in music.” Indeed.
Not only is the lineup stacked, but this will be Power Trip’s first time bringing their always amped crossover to Salt Lake City. When asked about expectations of their introduction to Salt Lake, Gale says, “We just go out and just play. We don’t expect anything, and that’s what makes good shows even better.” He promises, “I try to give people what I would want a good band to give back to me.”
The lineup on this tour will feature Power Trip’s prolific drummer Chris Ulsh (Mammoth Grinder, Hatred Surge) assuming guitar duties—nay, “riff stick” duties, as Gale likes to say—in Blake Ibanez’s stead, since Ibanez will be in school. Gale’s pumped about the lineup, as they have toured with this lineup before with Eyehategod, and says that Ulsh brings his own style to the guitar.
Prior to embarking, Power Trip are regrouping in Dallas (Gale lives in Chicago now) to write new material for their next album. They’re in preliminary stages, and when asked about what the new songs will sound like, Gale says, “We haven’t really talked about it. To be honest, we’ve kinda flexed some riffs and thrown them around in some jam sessions. We’ve got a lot of cool ideas left from the first LP that we have to flesh out.” Gale also mentioned Ulsh again, says, “Ulsh is going to be writing quite a few more riffs—he wrote most of “Crossbreaker,” and that song turned out really well. That dude rocks a riff stick.” Because the songwriting is in such an early state, Gale said that they probably wouldn’t be playing anything brand new on the upcoming tour.
As we began to talk about what inspires Gale’s indirect but political lyrics, conversation turned to the seemingly endless ills of the world. Although Gale finds plenty to be angry and negative about, he said the police top his list, saying, “I guess the police always piss me off. Same with government and politicians and all of that … Anybody who’s corrupt and pretends they’re not. I have way more respect for someone who will stab you in the front than stab you in the back.”
The conversation inevitably made its way to the recent explosion of protests against police in the wake of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner decisions, and Gale talked about what compelled Power Trip to take to Twitter to discuss the topic. “I was so beside myself,” says Gale: “‘Damn, I should say something about this.’ I guess that’s one of the bigger outlets for people to listen to my bullshit. I felt like it was such an important thing that people overlook. It’s still frustrating. It’s still frustrating as hell. It’s just frustrating that only now people are starting to see it.”
Not everything is so intense with Gale—we ended the interview swapping notes on our current graphic novel reads, with Gale being particularly enamored with the Dungeon Quest series and early Grant Morrison. We both came away with plenty to look into. So, if you see Gale at their show with Title Fight, Merchandise and locals Sights on March 10, you may be able to talk some world events or catch up on your favorite graphic novel reads.