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Decayed Race - 'Demo 2011' (Grandmas Lakehouse?) 4/5

A time for another random surf find, Decayed Race, are from Texas in the USA and have only been around since the start of last year

Now this sort of stuff takes me back. In the late 1980's I was in a rather obscure thrash metal band and due to the fact we knew Bath crustcore kings Amebix we ended up on a number bills with acts from the then exploding UK hardcore / grindcore / crust core scene. This was the age of the infamous micro-song. One act we played with did over 50 tracks in a half hour set. It was a bit of a shock at first, after all my musical schooling came from the days of prog rock and old school metal, but I soon got used to the minimalist approach and broadened my musical taste to allow albums by the likes of Napalm Death and Doom into the collection.

So when I downloaded this little nine tracker and found myself with tasty slice of 80's sounding crust fueled hardcore on my hand I was little bit delighted. Of the nine tracks on offer here, seven can be called true micro songs with play times from 14 seconds to just over half a minute (of the two remaining tracks Chipped Teeth only just passes the one minute mark). Numbers like Swine Brutality, Oppressed and Bleached fly past in glorious short blurs of angry attitude, walls of sonic devastation and brutal bludgeon that hit and run like Greek rioters outside a government office. Think Sore Throat, Electro Hippies, Napalm Death and Ripchord and you'll know exactly where these guys are coming from. Then by contrast we have the closing instrumental Chained Up, by contrast an epic at over three minutes long that is classic doomcore, all grinding menace, dark riffs and wailing feedback.

OK the production here is not hot, but when it comes to this stuff it doesn't need to be, as I keep saying, punk in all its sub genres is about attack and attitude, with everything else being secondary; and boy do these guys have both in abundance. True crusty grindcore is not often heard these days so when you do find some as good as this, then it must be embraced and praised for keeping one rocks most interesting sub genres alive.


For fans of... Napalm Death, Doom, Police Bastard, Black Flag, Sore Throat, Ripchord etc...

This demo can be downloaded for free from here.

Mecca - 'Undeniable' (frontiers) 4.5/5

Back in 2002 the debut album from Mecca caused a bit of a stir in melodic rock and AOR circles, then since the band finished a lengthy road trip in 2005 the band have been strangely quiet, to the extent that some fans were on the verge of sending out search parties. However Mecca had not been abducted by aliens or been victims of an ill advised boat trip into the Bermuda Triangle. They had in fact been ensconced way in darkened rehearsal rooms and recording studios slaving away on new material. And now at last they have finally got around to issuing this their second album.

So was the wait worth it? Now I gotta admit I can be quite cynical when it comes to stadium rock and AOR. After all my taste for this sort of stuff was formed in the heady days when the likes of Toto, Boston, Journey, Foreigner, Saga and the likes were experiencing their finest hours, so the bar in my mind has been set very very high, and I tend to be a bit down on anything that doesn't match those exacting standards.

However against all expectations I am finding Undeniable a very enjoyable listen indeed, even if the over all sound is a little Mr. Mister, a band I never got on with back in the day. Vocalist Joe Vana has a sweet voice that reminds me of Totos Bobby Kimball in his heyday and his son Joey on the guitar is a fair talent that has hints of Boston main man Tom Scholtz  in his playing.

It think its the fact that this material has been six years in the making is the real pay off here. Even the power ballads, of which there are several on show come over as interesting listens. Just take the sublimely subtle picked riff on Deceptive Cadence or the crisp and crunchy backing on Did It For Love as a couple of examples, these are tracks that are well thought through, not by the numbers work outs thrown together.

In other places the intelligent interplay of instruments and the texture of the soundscapes on offer are pretty noteworthy. Numbers like From The Start, with its great twin lead section, the soaring title track and the riff heavy Closing Time with its quirky and restrained synth motif all hold the attention throughout. And all truly great AOR records should have a true rock out number, and this one is no exception, for we have W2W a number that kicks off with a riff that wouldn't sound out of place on a Kiss album and a seriously cool widdle and shred solo (no kidding!!), and blends them into a song that sounds like Boston at their best.

In short there is not a weak moment on offer here, and this is an album that I know will stand the test of time.

Very Highly Recommended

For fans of... Boston, Toto, Mr Mister, Journey, Saga etc...