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.
Yaktooth = Knut + These Arms Are Snakes + Sleep
There are a few key things you need to know about Yaktooth: They like to talk about North Korea and Kim Jong Il, and they like to play math rock. Yaktooth wouldn’t be out of place on Hydra Head’s roster, and their jams rock. In a time where it seems like so many new bands try to be darker and play fewer notes than their peers—all over the course of 20-minute song lengths—Yaktooth is upping the energy and injecting a sense of humor. The North Korea jokes are currently funny, but in the long run this may detract from their appeal, as they do have the musical chops to play it straight. Either way, fun is fun, and with song titles like “Exploding Shark” and “Weekend at Burmese,” it’s nice to see humor mixed with solid tunes.