Thursday, June 30, 2011


Oakland's punishing sludge power trio BRAINOIL are preparing to drop their long-awaited, bulldozing, second full-length, Death Of This Dry Season, set for vinyl/digital worldwide release on August 2nd, 2011 via the almighty 20 Buck Spin label.

The anticipated follow-up to BRAINOIL's self-titled LP released via Life Is Abuse back in 2003, Death Of This Dry Season takes the band's scathing, wretched brew of Bay Area-style doom/sludge to new heights over the seven face-crushing anthems it beholds. With members of BRAINOIL collectively having done time in Laudanum, Stormcrow, Watch Them Die, Destroy!, Dead Language, Grimple, Pig Heart Transplant and more, their sludge style is chock full of up-tempo crust-inspired breaks and monstrously baked breakdowns undoubtedly suited for diehards of Black Cobra, Iron Lung, Stormcrow, Iron Monkey, Whitehorse, Buzzov*en and El Dopa.

The artwork on the LP was handled by FEEDING (Jon K from Iron Lung with his partner Nic Schmidt) and includes a mind-bending 24x24 inch poster insert
created especially for this release in the instantly recognizable FEEDING style.

Death Of This Dry Season Track Listing:
1. Death Of This Dry Season
2. Gravity Is A Relic
3. Opaque Reflections
4. Feet Cling To The Rotting Soil
5. To Bury The Pages Of Existence
6. Crimson Shadows
7. The Beauty Of Death

Continuing the label's longtime support of bands from their original home in the East Bay Area, 20 Buck Spin is proud to help re-introduce BRAINOIL to the current underground scene. Death Of This Dry Season marks a welcome and inexorable return to form by one of Oakland's most noted acts and will see the band playing shows near and far throughout the year. Stay tuned for more info as well as promos of the album in the blistering weeks ahead.

_http://www.brainoil.com_ (
_http://www.20buckspin.com_ (
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DEMON FUZZ, Afreaka!

If You Aren't a Big Dog You Better Get out of the Dock...or Some Shit. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sci-Fi That Sucks: The Left Hand of Darkness

Well, having done a few good sci-fi novel reviews over the past few months, it was inevitable I'd come to one that made me want to puke, eat it, and then turn that into some sort of poison to puke up again to feed to someone. Yes, that makes no sense and offers no perspective on what n the hell I'm talking about, but then again neither does this fucking piece of shit book. I actually have several shorter works by Le Guin and some short-story collections she's in, but this is actually the first thing I ever read by her. Considering it's one of the most well-known, if not the quintessential work that is her, perhaps I might want to toss the others in the 'take these to the used book store to trade them in for something good' bag.

The Left Hand of Darkness is billed on the back as being similar in scope and awesomeness to the Dune series. Hell, even Frank Herbert himself is quoted on the back. Usually, that's a pretty clear sign you're in for total hell, especially when one considers that the various Dune novels really aren't that great to begin with (yes I said it, let's all admit it for once). This novel is basically the polar opposite of Dune, pun intended there because the planet it takes place on is basically totally frozen. That, and it completely lacks any semblance of action and barely has enough plot to keep your interest. That, however, is just an inkling of how bad this fucking thing is. So what's it about?

The story revolves primarily around Genly Ai, an envoy from Terra (the classic sci-fi name for Earth in about every novel you'll ever read), who is part of a league of sorts of 80 or so planets. Their goal? Get more planets into the mix for trade, sharing of ideas, all that good stuff. Envoys are typically sent out alone under the belief that a single alien is a friendly gesture, whereas any more is perceived as invasion. So, Genly's goal is to convince the planet Gethen, primarily through one of its countries named Karhide, to join the league of planet shits and everyone engages in mutual masturbation. Really, that's an alright idea to run a plot, but this thing fails on so many levels it's shocking. Let's give it a bit of credit, though, and start with the good things, few though they are.

Good Shit

1. Great background development. Gethen is seriously dense with myth, history, legend, and unique cultures that interplay like real people, or sort of (read further).

2. Cool setting. Sure, Dune was on a desert planet and this is basically the opposite of it, but a planet stuck in an Ice Age presents some pretty cool potential for tension, monsters, and general adventure.

3. Good idea on the integration of 'authentic texts'. There are chapters that reference old legends of Gethen, old works of history, etc. that further develop the background to the world and help make more sense of the plot. Herbert did pretty much the same thing in Dune, so it's not original or anything, but it does make the novel feel more artistic.

4. Awesome alien idea. The people of Gethen are human. The difference is that they are androgynous. Other than certain times called 'kemmer', where they get really horny and change into either male or female for a short time to engage in mating, they have no sex. So they can be both father and mother to different children. Pretty cool idea, and it helps to provide some tension between a major character and Genly, who is a regular male human all the time and everyone calls him a pervert.

But that's it for the good shit, the bad shit makes the good shit pretty much just plain shit. Let's look further...

Bad Shit

1. Horrible character development. In fact, there really isn't much at all. Le Guin tries to provide a humanness to her characters, but it's rarely achieved. I'm not sure if it was achieved at all other than the one major character Estraven. Even then, you never really fully connect with him/her, because the development is so stale. The worst aspect is that Genly is pretty much worse than a Chinese peasant throughout the whole thing. He has no character at all other than the fact that he is a character. He pretty much sucks the big dick of the novel and lets it come all over him without blinking or caring.

2. Boring as shit. Holy hot damn is this thing boring. The majority of the story involves Genly trying to convince a crazy king and another country to join the league of planet bitches. That's actually ripe with potential, but it's totally blown. The entire story primarily revolves around horribly boring political intrigue. There is barely two pages worth of action or adventure in the entire thing, unless you're excited by about a hundred pages of two morons walking over a bunch of snow and running out of food. Pretty much nothing happens the entire novel, and by the end you're wondering why you even finished it.

3. Confusing integration, at times, of the aforementioned 'authentic texts'. Okay, cool idea, but frequently you'll be referring back to earlier sections to make sense out of some of them. At times, Le Guin has made her world a little too dense without working the characters more. With most of the time spent on the background of the story, only a bit of which you actually get to learn about, there really isn't much room for anything interesting to actually happen. Some of the authentic text parts, legends and so forth, are really pretty stupid in comparison to the rest. A paragraph or so would have sufficed instead of the long, rambling legends of ye ole' Gethen which lead you into a restless slumber more often than not.

4. It's not really sci-fi. It's a stretch to call this hunk of shit sci-fi by any regard. The only real bit of science in this entire thing is the fact that Genly comes from a league of planets and his spaceship is circling Gethen until he accomplishes his goal. Gethen is largely low tech, so they live in almost a feudal society with snow shoes and carts and such. Think Siberia about a hundred years ago. Genly has a little talking tablet thing, but that's about the extent of the science fiction in this. It's actually more fantasy than anything. If you didn't have mention of the fact that Gethen is a planet, it's pretty much a really, really boring fantasy novel. No cool weapons, ships, or anything, just a bunch of snow.

5. Total lack of action. Good sci-fi usually involves an engaging plot with a lot of depth, but more often than not has moments of crazy action, bizarre beast attacks, and weird alien plots that culminate in exciting wars of words where you wonder what's coming next. The Left Hand of Darkness lacks all of this, or at least when it does appear it's totally tame. There is almost no action in this entire thing other than some slips on the ice, no cool creatures (come on the ice part was plenty ready for that), and a plot that is way too speech-focused.

6. Speaking of that, that's the major problem with this fucking thing. The entire plot basically pans out via speech with various political leaders playing legal chess through Genly, who just takes it like a champ. There is not a single moment you're really going to be interested in the story, and I really, really mean that. It has some cool philosophy behind it, but it desperately needed at least some action, for the love of god. With no real tension in the entire story and a political hoo-ha that barely keeps your attention long enough to finish a single chapter, this one fails on many plot levels.

7. Pretty much no closure. The lack of action thing, fine, whatever, I guess. No, actually that really pisses me off. But what makes it worse is that by the end, the ending is really all you expected from the start when you know what Genly is doing. Is he going to convince the planet to join the league of extraordinary boredom? Yes. That's about it. One page would have sufficed, instead of a hundred million about snow, ice, and running out of food. By the time you get to the end, you really haven't been given anything you didn't expect and you really didn't learn anything either. It's like you took a two-hundred-something page shit and flushed it without wiping.

So that's about it. When it comes down to it, this book DOES NOT deserve all the hype it seems to get and all the good (and consequentially suspect) reviews on Amazon.cashhog Some of the ideas behind it and the background is actually pretty cool, but it's just barely a sci-fi novel with no action and really tedious plot development. Unless you're a completist and feel like you need to read all that is sci-fi, just stay away from The Left Hand of Darkness, it's totally worthless.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

METALION, The SLAYER MAG Diaries Book Preview

744 pages, six pounds...I can't fucking wait....


Anyway, this guy is dead. Arkus sent me an e-mail to inform me last week, but I didn't bother to make a post.I thought he was going to take the post, but he didn't. I just checked other blogs and zines and everyone was posting the same kind of 'blurb'; yeah he pissed a lot of people off and blah, blah and he abused his body and blah blah, and some big beefcakes liked his stuff and collaborated with him and blah blah, and he was on a wheelchair and blah blah and now he is dead.

It's a shame when someone dies, especially when that someone is fairly young. Looking at the pic on the left I assume Seth was in his early 40's maybe? Not sure. I won't bother to look that up. Not now. He is gone and it doesn't matter. And reading through some of those posts last week it sounded like he was looking for it and he finally got it. Dare we say, he succeeded?

Anyway, Putnam had his schtick and it stuck enough for some decent labels to release his garbage. I can count myself among the suckers. I own 40 More Reasons to Hate Us and consider it to be a total piece of shit of a recording. And I guess I should say that it is very very gay.

After I got the e-mail from Arkus I shot something back, maybe something snidey and Arkus replied that he liked Anal Cunt's early stuff. I wasn't even sure there was early material, or actually, I didn't know there was a difference between his early and his late Anal Cunt stuff. All I heard sounded like shit, and that stuck. Still, it's a shame that he is gone...I guess...I didn't know the guy...personally.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Stride Shift Sucks Serious Ball Sacks

Okay, sorry for the rant here, but Deaf Sparrow would like to whole-heartedly not endorse this horrible, horrible creation of mankind's worst chemical poisons. So the idea behind this piece of shit is the gum changes flavor as you chew it. I didn't think they'd really be able to pull off something without relying on a strong flavor like a mint, which was verified by the box, which indicates this particular one shifts from berry to mint. Already I was afraid...

But okay, let's try it. Some cool sugar-free gums have been coming out recently, like one that tastes like mint chocolate chip ice cream, at least for about five minutes. Berry to mint though? Probably not going to work, and by god it didn't. First off, this gum is pretty tough to chew. About three pieces in the mouth is a good bit and gives it some more softness, but for some reason at first it's quite a tough gum. So the berry kicks in. Cool, tastes like berry, pretty solid. And then...FUCK. So the mint kicks in about one second after you start and BOY does it TASTE LIKE SHIT. I mean, we're talking something you want to spit out. It takes about a good ten minutes to get used to the mint, so shocking is it right after the berry. In a short phrase, don't buy this gum. It sucks, the flavor shift only lasts about half a second and will induce bile from your lower bowels immediately. You're better off just buying a straight mint gum, because that's what this is in the end. Assholes.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sci-Fi Adventures: Laser Books - The Horde

Man, sci-fi was the shit at one time. And by that I mean that everyone wanted to jump on the bandwagon and make a buck, or back then about thirty-five cents per book. Laser Books was a sideproject of sorts of a famous, and still active, Canadian book powerhouse company of doom. The idea for this series was simple. Get a bunch of authors, some well-known, have them write original stories that didn't appear elsewhere, keep them no longer than 60,000 words, serialize it, and call it a day. Laser Books released three books per month for about a year, and then suddenly tanked. It's really not clear why this happened, but it's most likely that the quality overall wasn't very good, as well as the fact that a few authors, including Piers Anthony, were pretty pissed about their work being butchered.

Anyway, this is the first Laser Book I found and the first one I've read, so I can't judge the entire series as a whole, which, by the way, is not sequential or anything. All the books are stand-alone, they were just released with nice little numbers and a cool "series" look so that later freaks would want to collect them. The Horde was book 27 in the line, written by Joseph Green, who did a ton of short stories for sci-fi mags and wrote a number of works along the way. This one was his entry in the Laser Books sci-fi store/subscription attack. First off, let's check the cover.

What in the hell is going here? I still look at this one and wonder what Kelly Freas was thinking, a famous sci-fi illustrator, by the way. In the background you have some representative terrain that you'll encounter in the story, so that's fine, and then you have the alien race in question in most of the book, the Shemsi. What the fuck is with the floating head? I assume it's the main character, but I didn't personally picture him with such a Flash Gordon chin and smug, asswipe attitude. All he needed was a stogie and a hovering, diembodied gun or some shit. Anyway...

In The Horde, main character Leo Volz and his woman become marooned on a planet that functions as a disputed territory between humans and a race of weirdos called the Shemsi. Leo's chick is taken to the Shemsi home planet for study, primarily because the Shemsi are asexual and want to learn how humans work, thinking that changing their genetics can eventually lead to a better society. The Shemsi are birthed by one of three uber moms on their home planet, and depending on which mother (they go through periods of control of their society), the Shemsi are one of three personality types and have one of three major positions in their society.

So, Leo ends up saving one of the Shemsi from a bizarre alien beast, and then convinces him (well, so he thinks, it's really further work of the Mothers) to help him retrieve his beloved bang toy. What follows is a pretty tense lead-up to the Shemsi encampment, and then the eventual landing on the Shemsi world. Really, the book is pretty damn interesting up to this part. It has the typical 'what would aliens be like' thing going on; lots of weird devices, creatures, and so forth, but it plays its part well. However, this begins to change about halfway through, and then The Horde reaches a rather boring portion that doesn't let up until the end.

See, this novel takes the approach of the film 'Enemy Mine', just being used here as an example. You have two races that don't understand each other, two representatives of those races who get stuck somewhere for some reason, and then who learn to like each other and appreciate, for the most part, what each has to offer. That's the general run of what The Horde is, because the freaking pathway to the giant mountain where the Mothers live is long as shit. Where this novel suffers is the extremely lengthy amount of time spent with both Leo and Erith (the Shemsi dude) traveling over inhospitable terrain. You learn a lot about Shemsi and there are some decent segments where their culture is explained, but overall this whole section is about as interesting as walking through the desert, and that's about what it amounts to too. There are only so many times you can read about their various tribulations as they learn to navigate the terrain, and though the culture background is cool, when it comes down to it you have another sci-fi romp in the wasteland going on here. Really a shame, because in general The Horde is an easy and fairly interesting read. If you're looking for a dude-meets-alien-and-befriends-him story, this one delivers, but be prepared to join them in their harrowing quest to the point that you start to feel their pain. Sometimes, you might want to put it down for awhile. There are, however, worse novels out there with wasteland portions, so don't expect it to be too bad.