THKD T-SHIRT SALE!

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Hey friends, now that we’re all moved it’s time to clean out the closet. I have a ton of band shirts that I never wear, sizes M, L and XL, most are in excellent condition (unless otherwise noted) and have barely been worn, some probably never worn at all. Below is the master list, all shirts are $8.00 each PPD unless otherwise noted and if you don’t like the price make me an offer! Feel free to spread the word and help a brother out. I will be happy to supply photos of any shirts you might be interested in. Message me here or e-mail me at jjhaun@gmail.com (serious inquiries only). US customers only please.

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Cassette Label Summit 2014

 

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I’ve spent a lot of time covering cassettes here at THKD, not just because I dig them, but because I truly believe that some of the best and most interesting heavy music today is being released by smaller labels who have embraced the format as an affordable way to bring the underground to the masses.  As such, my relationship with several of these labels has become far more personal than just receiving an e-mail blast from some faceless PR company; their owners have proven to be incredibly personable and genuinely appreciative of the coverage I’ve given them.  But, as deeply as I’ve delved into cassettes and as much as I’ve chatted with those who are in the business of releasing them, I still had many unanswered questions.  What motivates them?  What brought them to the format?  At the end of the day, does the format even matter?  In an attempt to answer these and many other questions, I gathered the gents behind the labels for a virtual round table discussion of all things tape-related.

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Body Count – “Talk Shit, Get Shot”

Very, very few bands have ever managed to do rap metal right.  Body Count is one of those few.  Of course, it helps when you’re fronted by one of the most celebrated legit hip hop artists of all time in the form of Ice-T, pretty much the only OG gangsta rapper who’s managed to keep his credibility intact while expanding his brand to include movie and TV roles + a reality show.  The band haven’t put out an album since 2006’s Murder for Hire, but they’re poised to strike back on June 10th with Manslaughter, their debut for Sumerian Records and fifth album overall.

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Heavydeath – Demo I (Caligari Records, 2014)

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Between the two of them, Johan Backman and Nicklas Rudolfsson have done time in heavy hitting Swedish acts such as Sacramentum, The Funeral Orchestra, Necrocurse and Runemagick, but when the two come together as Heavydeath is when things get really, uh, heavy.  Indeed, the duo have crafted a deep, dark, death doom voyage with their first demo, appropriately titled Demo I, and just as you might expect from seeing the Caligari Records logo stamped on the j-card, it’s a very good one.  Oh, and did I mention yet that it’s heavy?

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Bandcamp Band Crap #3: Back in Black

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By some miracle, I’m actually managing to do one of these per month; I can only assume it has something to do with the sheer volume of quality music available on Bandcamp, because it isn’t like I’ve gotten any less lazy.  For those of you that might not have been too terribly keen on last month’s all-slamming edition of this here series, I think you might just find this one more to your liking.  This month sees Bandcamp Band Crap skewing back toward black metal and there are some real gems here that should please fans of all the genre’s wondrous guises.  So without further ado, let’s dig in.

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Nocturnal Breed – Napalm Nights (Agonia Records, 2014)

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I’ll always consider myself a student of heavy metal rather than an expert, but sometimes I’m still boggled by the bands that manage to fly below my radar.  Case in point; I was entirely unfamiliar with Norwegian blackened thrash outfit Nocturnal Breed until the fine folks at Fresno Media put them right under my nose.  Surprising considering my fondness for this type of thing, but better late than never, because their latest album Napalm Nights totally rips.

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Destruction / Krisiun / Exmortus @ Wooly’s, Des Moines, IA 04/09/14

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When it comes to metal shows in Des Moines, it’s either feast or famine.  The month of April is proving to be quite the feast, boasting tour stops from genre luminaries such as Broken Hope, The Lurking Corpses and Embryonic Devourment.  But the show I’ve probably been looking forward to the most was a three-headed beast; a headlining set from legendary German thrashers Destruction, supported by Brazilian brutal death metal trio Krisiun and SoCal up-and-comers Exmortus.

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Demon Head – Demo 2014 (Caligari Records, 2014)

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When traditional/proto-doom is done right, there are few things finer, and few if any bands are doing it better than Demon Head.  The Copenhagen-dwelling quintet recently had a demo tape released by the venerable Caligari Records, and it’s a slow-burning scorcher that quite frankly blows recent big-name practitioners of the style such as Kadavar and Orchid out of the water.  It really is that damn good.

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Vampire – s/t (Century Media, 2014)

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With a name like Vampire, you might expect this mysterious Swedish quartet to be some kind of sappy, quasi-gothic nonsense, but fortunately for you, dear headbanger, nothing could be further from the truth, as evidenced by the gritty, greasy metal of their self-titled Century Media debut. Indeed, the infernal racket found here recalls the likes of Venom, Bathory and perhaps Darkthrone’s more recent work, but the vamps instill the tunes with enough of their own punky, garage-rocking fervor to distinguish themselves from the retro-metal hordes.  Imagine Cronos, Tom G. Warrior and Fenriz jamming in said garage and you’re getting pretty damn close to the hellbound underground sound of Vampire.

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The Metallica Letters: THKD vs. Last Rites – Load

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In 1996, Metallica unleashed Load, an album which saw the band drifting even further away from the complex thrash metal they’d made their name on in favor of stripped-down, southern-tinged hard rock.  They also toyed with their image, chopping off their once flowing locks and ditching black jeans and t-shirts for eyeliner and designer duds.  Before it was even released, the band made seismic waves with the Samuel Bayer-directed, Hieronymus Bosch-inspired music video for first single “Until it Sleeps,” which seemed to exist in another universe both musically and visually from anything they’d done previously.

I distinctly remember me and my buddy Jon going out to our local Best Buy to buy the album the day it came it out; we excitedly popped the CD into his car stereo and… we thought it was awesome.  You see, growing up smack dab in the Midwest with no access to a metal underground of any kind gave us a unique perspective; in spite of being familiar with Metallica’s back catalog we didn’t feel betrayed, rather we welcomed the band doing something different and not putting out The Black Album Part II.  Maybe we were naive, but I’d like to think we were open-minded.  At sixteen years old I wasn’t listening to albums with the critical ear I have now, and we had no concept of elitism or preconceived notions of what metal had to sound like in order to be “true.” The fact that we were raised on classic rock and loved alternative rock almost as much as we loved metal made it pretty easy to appreciate what Metallica were attempting, even if in retrospect their attempt was heavily flawed.

As recently as last year, I was still proclaiming my love for Load, stating that if any other band had released it, it would be hailed as a great hard rock album.  As it turns out, a more thorough critical analysis reveals that only about half the album is as strong as I’ve previously proclaimed it to be, the other half is a combination of filler and failed experiments that make a strong case for Load and its sister album ReLoad being whittled down to a single combined disk (that could be a whole other piece unto itself… hmm…).

In the second part of our Metallica Letters series of collaborative posts, Last Rites‘ Jordan Campbell and myself tackle the bloated, quintuple platinum-selling beast that somehow propelled Lars and Co. even further into the stadium rock stratosphere in spite of its inherent weirdness.  Check out our thoughts on Side A below and then head over to Last Rites for Side B.

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