Monday, July 11, 2011
End Times--Demo 2011
When I go around on Bandcamp looking for weird stuff to listen to, I look for certain select features of a band before I even give them a try. If the band has a goofy name or album artwork that makes them look like a third rate Symphony X, I always skip them. The Benjamin Leaurant Project? Sorry, and you need to get some better album artwork. How many spaceships are on this album cover? Three? And are they destroying anything? Nope...
It's amazing right now to look at all the different bands that are on Bandcamp and realizing that most of them are bedroom Djent bands (yuck) where the dude behind the music is creative enough to use his NAME as the BAND NAME (double yuck). The rest of the bands are crusty hardcore, which I approve of to a far greater degree than bedroom Djent. It's like the difference between being served a plate of cat turds and brussels sprouts for dinner or getting a big cheeseburger. Maybe you're at a restaurant, and you're amazed with the wide variety of cat turd and brussels sprouts dishes being served, and worse yet, SO MANY PEOPLE ARE ORDERING THEM. Luckily, this restaurant is also equipped with a variety of cat turd-free cheeseburgers for people who don't want to just jump on the latest (and most confusing) culinary fad.
Seriously, Djent needs to just go away.
The other thing I usually look for as a visual indicator of whether or not I'm going to listen to something is the trusty "black and white cover of something probably horrible happening/something horrible just happened," coupled with the word "Demo."
Is there a sweeter word in the musical world than "demo?" Well, other than "sweep picking?"
I love listening to bands' demos. It's so much fun to hear the very first thing that a band puts out, because it feeds the maniacal need for me, as a metal d00d, to be a self-righteous jerk about bands once they get signed. We all want to be able to say "I have their demo. It was pretty good," about a band that's coming through our town or releasing an album on Southern Lord or something. And there's always the ancient phrase "Their demo was better." It makes us feel like big shots when you can denounce a better-produced full-length album by declaring their three-song to be perfectly superior to the newer material, and therefore the only thing worth listening to. And I love making myself feel like a big shot!
Finally, listening to demos makes me remember my first band. We were a trashy punk band out of Bakersfield, CA called Stickman's Revenge. You see, my friend Nick, with whom I constructed the initial theoretical version of the band when I was 10, used to draw comics of stick people killing each other before it became an internet fad to make cartoons of animated stickmen pulling each others cocks off with motorcycles and shit. He was a revolutionary! Anyway, we pulled the name of our future band from those comics he used to draw, which replaced the original name that I thought of (Squeamish Fish) when we went and saw Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls in theaters in 1995.
This was probably a full year after we had initially theorized about our future band, and a full year before either of us got a musical instrument to play.
I was supposed to play drums, but since my parents were smart and forward-thinking enough to understand that giving a ten year old a drumset so that he could immediately start a PUNK ROCK BAND was a retarded idea, they got my aunt to give me a guitar instead. Then I got a bass because Nick also got a guitar, and two guitar players was a stupid idea.
Once the band was all put together in 1999 we started playing shows, playing with Duane Peters and the Hunns several times, as well as Union 13 (who we played with and saw live no less than 10 times) and U.K. Subs, as well as several other formerly-notable punk bands. We made a website that is somehow still standing (in a manner of speaking) before collapsing in on ourselves when teenaged angst and high school graduations became too much for the scaffolding of the band to bear.
But we did make a demo tape, on audio cassette, around the turn of the millennium, which we managed to sell hundreds of copies of (this could be a reasonably generous figure on my part, but we did sell a lot more than I ever thought we would). Most of these red cassettes have gone the way of the buffalo, what with new technologies making audio cassettes as useful as a watch on a dead guy, but I still have mine. I engineered it myself on a Tascam 4-Track recorder in our drummer's bedroom, and it sounds as good as you think it does.
Luckily for bands like End Times, technology is here and they have wisely chosen to make a demo that sounds pretty good and that can be downloaded onto interwebs for jerks like me to download for free. And their music isn't half bad, either! End Times are a metallic hardcore band that incorporates thrashy guitar melodies, At the Gates-style riffing and even a jazzy sort of clean guitar vignette. Think about them as a primitive Converge with death metal influences, and you're getting there. As with most hardcore bands, End Times is the most fun when they're frantically pounding you with D-beat, raging across a barren landscape to alert you to the fact that stuff sucks in the angriest sounding way they can construct with the tools available to them. Which is not to discount their mid-tempo chug, either, but I think that if you've ever read this blog before, you know about my throbbing, veiny D-boner, and its predilection toward that most hallowed beat.
I was a punk rocker, after all.
If you're interested in getting in on the demo fun, just follow your nose to End Times' Bandcamp page and get your download on. And then we can talk about how they suck now and how their demo was better than anything else, and then we'll suck each others dicks or whatever. Come on, man, it'll be fun. Don't be weird about it.