Cult Ritual is another David Vassalotti outfit (see previous rant about Merchandise), and is unfortunately now defunct. Not to say he's all that went into this band, but damn, it seems like every band he's in rules, so at this point I'm just put two and two together. Seriously though, David and his buddies down in Florida killed it with this LP. Those following hardcore the past few years will surely have heard of this band, if not heard this record. Front to back it engulfs your pitiful little brain with sharp, noisy, unforgettable hardcore riffs, and keeps you in that unhealthy headspace where singing about crucified cops (their words not mine) makes the day that much easier to get through. This band doesn't lay directly in the wake of many of the older bands on this blog, but they are without a doubt dark in the sense that plenty of pent up aggression went into making this record. Check it out, and then wish you could find an affordable copy of this LP:
Artist: Autonomy Album: The Art Of Work In The Age Of Digital Reproduction Release: 2012 Label: Dirt Cult Tracklist: 1. Homostasis Stasis 2. Public Faith 3. Dumb Punk 4. Contemptus Mundi 5. Library of Alexandria 6. No Need 7. Kistvaen 8. Gods Die 9. Work Order 10. Monuments Men 11. Fear Hate 12. Culture Tomb
I've been anticipating this LP ever since I first got my hands on Autonomy's 2011 demo and it was well worth the wait. The production is more clear, the songs more polished, and the energy and atmosphere of the demo intact. Frantic and dancable, this record takes from a spectrum of punk and post-punk influences, landing somewhere between the fuzzed-out, political Crass records tradition, and more dark atmospheric new wave. Don't pass this one up, you'll regret it:
Artist: Merchandise Album: (Strange Songs) In The Dark Release: 2010 Label: Katorga Works, Drugged Conscious Tracklist: 1. Loss 2. I Locked The Door 3. Foolish (Her Song) 4. I Get Lost 5. Worthless Apology 6. In The Dark
---------------- Artist: Merchandise Album: Children Of Desire Release: 2012 Label: Katorga Works Tracklist: 1. Thin Air 2. Time 3. Become What You Are 4. In Nightmare Room 5. Satellite 6. Roser Park
So to say I've been slacking hard on this blog is an understatement. I appreciate all of you that have dug through past posts in my absence. Focusing on such small niches of music so intensely for a while has burnt me out a bit, so what I plan to do is open the scope of this blog a bit (don't worry, 80's punk in all its various forms will still rule). To start here are two albums from a band very strongly influenced by the goth movement, but who have done something refreshing in a period where Christian Death and Discharge clones roam abound. I mean lets be serious, not everyone can pull it off like Deathcharge. This band, Merchandise, is probably not new to you, as even hoards of Pitchfork followers are discovering them, but I highly recommend both of these releases if you haven't given them the chance they deserve.
The first, '(Strange Songs) In the Dark', is more outwardly influenced by many other bands on this blog. Depressing, synth heavy, drum machine, dark crooning, its all there. But something else puts this band a step above many other contemporary acts. In fact two somethings. The first is that, while definitely residing in the wake of Ian Curtis, Adrian Borland (The Sound), etc, the vocalist for Merchandise, Carson Cox, has an identifiable, heart-wrenching voice in his own right. The second is that guitarist David Vassalotti writes guitar riffs of all kinds, so good they'll make you dumb. And when I say all kinds I mean it. Check out the last song on the Merchandise demo (pure 90's gold), his solo work under monikers Dads, D.Vassalotti (lo-fi noisy pop), or his work with Cult Ritual (riff dominated hardcore). All fantastic, and I haven't even delved into the Neon Blud discography quite yet (another solo project).
These two records will make you sad, they will make you sing along, they will make wish you could ever write a song so fucking good. Start with my favorite below. In my opinion the best of many great songs they have written. If you like what you hear, watch Katorga for represses, 'Strange Songs' already has been repressed once, and I'm sure Children of Desire isn't too far off.