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SSR Picks: September 16 2021

Celtic Frost: Parched with Thirst Am I and Dying (1992, Noise International)

A few weeks ago I picked up the vinyl for this 1992 compilation album by the almighty Celtic Frost. I’ve owned the CD of Parched with Thirst for years, but picking up the (slightly abridged) vinyl version prompted me to dig back into this weird and wonderful record.

Even on the surface of it, a Celtic Frost compilation album seems like a curious proposition because the band reinvented themselves, often rather drastically, with each album. It’s a long way from the primitive eruption of Morbid Tales to the more measured and confident Vanity / Nemesis, and there are numerous detours along the way. Parched with Thirst doesn’t attempt to make sense of Celtic Frost’s complicated artistic trajectory, nor does it revel in the band’s eclecticism. As you might expect from Celtic Frost, the selection of tracks and the sequencing is idiosyncratic, at first glance kind of strange, but with some indescribable logic holding it all together, even imbuing it with a strange magic.

While I was researching what people had to say about Parched with Thirst, I encountered frustration from listeners who couldn’t put the record into a particular box. It’s not a greatest hits collection or highlight reel from across the band’s career. Nor is it a “rarities” compilation; while it includes rare and unreleased tracks, there are several previously released album tracks too. It’s unclear what Parched with Thirst is or who it is for, but part of being a Celtic Frost fan—I’d say one of the best parts of being a Celtic Frost fan—is surrendering yourself to the band’s unintuitive logic, trusting them to take you wherever they’re going to take you.

For all of this conceptual and philosophical muddiness, Parched with Thirst is an engaging listen, questioning conventional wisdom about the band’s artistic peaks and valleys. “Downtown Hanoi,” a track from Cold Lake that appears here in a version re-recorded in 1991 (though not drastically different from the original), sits right next to “Circle of the Tyrants,” a classic track from the classic Emperor’s Return EP, and it doesn’t sound weird at all. John Peel famously said of the Fall that they were “always different, alway the same;” perhaps the same statement could apply to Celtic Frost?

Along with the eclectic mix of tracks from earlier in Celtic Frost’s career, Parched with Thirst is bookended by two unreleased tracks, “Idols of Chagrin” and “Under Apollyon’s Sun,” both demos intended for Celtic Frost’s next album, though the band abandoned the project. Original drummer / not-so-secret weapon Stephen Priestly programs the drum tracks for these two songs (more successfully for “Idols of Chagrin” than “Under Apollyon’s Sun”), and the riffing and songwriting are characteristically left of center. “Idols of Chagrin” is an intriguing song, with a grungy main riff and reverb-soaked production held over from the hair metal era, but with a heavy and nasty bridge part that sounds like classic Frost. I’m sure Under Apollyon’s Sun would have been a divisive album, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.


What’s up Sorry Staters?

I found myself midway into my week, and once again, not even close to being dead set on what to write about for my staff pick. As much as I’m stoked about the Genetic Control reissue, Imploders 7”, and a whole bunch of other new releases we’ve recently stocked at Sorry State, I can’t stop listening to this new tape by Personal Damage.

Consistent with the weird world of punk we live in in the modern era, I discovered this Personal Damage tape through the wonderful world of the internet. At first, I had no idea this was the case, but apparently, a few people from Hate Preachers are in this band. So duh, no wonder this tape is so damn good. Within the first 10 seconds of the first song, “Shits Fucked,” I already knew I would love this shit. The guitar riffs have that specific rhythmic style that to me is an obvious nod to early 80s California hardcore. Specifically, I hear a lot of Wasted Youth or Anti. But then the vocals kinda hit an aloof tunefulness that reminds me of Shawn Stern from LA Youth Brigade. Lyrically though, it’s kinda the opposite where the dude seems less earnest and more snotty, almost humorous at times. When I got to the track “I Need A Cup”, I had a nice little chuckle to myself. So yeah, I guess this band don’t take themselves too seriously, but goddamn does this thing rip.

I would have loved to lock down a physical copy of this demo for myself, but I guess it’s already sold out. Hoping that Personal Damage makes another run of these bad boiz for all our sakes.

Keepin’ it brief this week. As always, thanks for reading.

‘Til next week,

-Jeff


Hi friends, hope everyone is doing well?

The busy week continues for me personally, with the first of hopefully a series of DJ curated evenings at a cool spot here in Raleigh, The Longleaf Hotel & Lounge. Outside too. For the entire night I’ll be spinning Exotica, Tropical Latin and other mid-century Tiki Hut favorites. Easy listening for those not needing their BPMs in the hundreds whilst enjoying a craft cocktail. I’m hoping people will respond and enjoy it. I’ve wanted to have a venue and audience for this type of music for a while but typically when employed as a DJ the expectation is to be keeping the dance floor busy and rocking the joint with choice tunes and not chilling them out with gentle Latin grooves etc. It’s one thing to slip in a few of these types of numbers into the beginning of a set but another to make it the whole evening. It felt funny packing my record boxes and not including some of my go to bangers. Still, this gig is an early evening one and I think it’ll be fun playing Exotica for people.

Over the years, whilst digging for records in thrift stores and bargain bins, I have managed to collect quite a few Exotica records. For the most part, they had such great covers enticing the buyer with visions of far away places and mysterious sounds. In the mid-1950s through early 1960s, the craze for music like this, along with anything Latin, was at its peak. There are literally thousands of records that feature a mambo rhythm, bongos and other exotic percussion instruments. One name associated with the Exotica craze was Martin Denny, an American who lived in Hawaii. He released a bunch of records with the title Exotica and other similar inspired names. In 1959, he scored a huge hit with Quiet Village, a tune written by Les Baxter, another American musician who was scoring hits with his own blend of Jazz and Afro-Latin sounds. As well as these albums, Baxter was also busy scoring soundtracks, something he continued for many years to come. Similar to Baxter and Denny was a fellow named Enoch Light who made a name for himself by experimenting with recording technology and who released tons of records showcasing new stereo recording techniques, etc. A lot of these records have covers of pop hits and feature percussion instruments to the fore. In 1959, he formed Command Records and was one of the first to try and push the quality of recording to higher levels.

As I packed my record boxes for the gig, it was obvious how big an influence these names had on the genre and how many of their records I have managed to accumulate. In all honestly, these records are maybe not killer all the way through and to our modern ears sound dated, but on each one there are a couple of nice little moments, and I am hoping that I can select a good batch of tunes from my collection to entertain folks with. Wish me luck. It should be fun.

Next time you are out digging for records and see some of these exotic covers, I encourage you to investigate. They’re usually cheap and somewhat easy to find, but of course, in today’s upside-down world, maybe that is not the case for some of the better ones. Good luck.

That’s all I have for you this week. See you next time.

Cheers - Dom


Man, this album is the absolute pinnacle of the Hardcore of today! What an excellent album to follow up with! Oh shit, I guess you don’t know what album I am talking about… I am too busy to take a photo of the cover cos I’m fucking Hardcore dancing while I blast the LP instead. Turnstile, everybody. I see all you salad-eating pansies out here talking shit, but I want to see who the fuck can hang with me and my crew in the pit. You probably can’t take the heat this hot ass slab radiates. There’s no shame in that. You are just weak-minded, with poser blood pumping through your veins. All you want is the latest hype, the latest fads. All you want is D-beat and Japanese hardcore. You are blind. Turnstile is woke. All the trends will die, and Turnstile will still stand, proudly wearing their fucking Hardcore Heavyweights of the World Championship title belt. Turnstile is for the trve punks and Hardcore freaks. This album is so revolutionary. Me and my friends were at our weekly circle jerk (thank God we are back on schedule, Covid really fucked that up!) and my homie Chad threw on the new Turnstile, “Glow On.” I lost my mind at how good it was. I busted a nut immediately. “Don’t Play” is one of my favorite tracks! While Turnstile mostly reminds me of 311 mixed with a little Red Hot Chili Peppers, the ripping guitar on this track plus the gang vocals really remind me of The Casualties! What a great song! The fucking pinnacle of hardcore, you guys! You can listen to it here. Even though they have some absolutely ripping parts in the song, they still remind me so much of 311. (Another killer fucking band!) The song ‘Freak Out’ by 311 must be a really huge influence on Turnstile. There are so many parallels between the two bands. Hell yeah! So last week I had to cast another poll aside from HC Knockouts, but this time on my IG account @bunkerpunks. I had to ask the world this huge debated question!

To be honest, I knew 311 would take the cake! Turnstile fucking rule and have the capacity to crush 99.99999% of competition, but you can’t beat the originators. I know I go on about 311, but I know that Turnstile has other influences aside from 311 (and R.H.C.P.). But I really think they take influence from other killer artists like Rage Against the Machine, Dave Mathews Band (it’s true!), Good Charlotte, and of course 25 Ta Life. Sorry State sold our copies of ‘Glow On’ lightning fast (of course what a great fucking album, album of the decade!) but don’t worry, we have a restock on the way, for all you trve Hardcore motherfuckers. Alright everybody, keep glowin on!


Reverend Jim Jones: Last Sermon at the Peoples Temple

This record probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Hell, even when I put it on, I asked myself why I purchased it. It’s hard to listen to, but I’m so fascinated by Jim Jones and the cult he created, I found myself just sitting there, mouth open, while it played. Cults, serial killers, most true crime is fascinating to me and it’s been a cool experience watching it go from a fringe interest to something that is widely consumed by the public.

One of the most popular podcasts on the subject, Last Podcast on the Left, had an episode about a new graphic novel depicting Ed Gein’s life. Why bring him up? Well, the interview was great (just like most of the episodes of that podcast) but there was a moment that stood out to me and made things CLICK in my head. They talked about how Ed Gein has become this character, more than a person, and some of that is probably attributed to the lack of media there was to document his case. There are very few pictures of Gein, no videos, and he spent most of his time alone in his house. In the interview, they attribute Gein’s larger than life cultural persona to the lack of media surrounding his life and crimes. So many of the fascinating true crime stories have minimal media to consume, so we’re left with eyewitnesses and experts telling us about it. Jim Jones and his cult are a bit different.

There are tons of photos of Jim Jones, his followers, and the lives they created for themselves in Guyana. Anyone with a feigning interest in this cult has probably seen the aerial footage after the mass murders. For me, it is hard to quantify; it is hard to view Jim Jones as real. It is hard to see the aftermath photos and think about the bodies laying there. 918 people died, and that’s an impossibly large number to wrap my head around. Hearing the last recordings on this record has added voices to the bodies, grounded these individuals as people and not merely “cult members.” Jones recorded most of his drug fueled rants that were blasted on speakers all over the commune, day in and day out. There are hours of incoherent rantings you can listen to but, to me, it just made him more fantastical. How did a person like that exist?

The recording on this record, the last moments before the mass murder/suicides make the events at Jonestown so much more real. You can hear people crying, you can hear his followers trying to justify this decision, you can hear and FEEL the chaos erupting. So why the fuck did someone press this on vinyl? I’m not sure, but my morbid curiosity on all things Jonestown has been quelled by this release. I know this is the closest I’ll be to that event and it is STILL incredibly hard to wrap my mind around as something Real that Actually Happened. I can’t tell you why or what makes me want to delve deeper into these fucked up facets of humankind, but I’m glad I’m not the only one.

I’m not going to share a link to the recordings at Jonestown; it’s easily found by a quick Google search. I respect that not a lot of people would want to hear it, so I’m going to leave you with a trailer for the movie ‘The Sacrament’. It is a modern retelling of the last moments at Jonestown and will bring you just as close to this event as the record brought me…if that’s something you even want.


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