Thursday, November 27, 2014

Beer: Jolly Traveler Shandy

JOLLY TRAVELER SHANDY (Burlington, VT) - 3.75 (good)

Based in Vermont, and apparently tangentially affiiated with Magic Hat and Samuel Adams’ Boston Brewing, Traveler Brewing’s Shandy line has found great success with their lighter fruit-based beer and offerings. This is their new seasonal for Winter months, and it’s pretty tasty.

Appearance: Clear amber with nice off-white head of carbonation. Patchy, spotty lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Spices, sour fruit, pomegranate, orange. Not bad, and actually quite inviting.

Taste: Very Winter-spiced indeed! The spices (cinnamon, and maybe nutmeg) play well alongside the fruitiness. A tasty and enjoyable (and light at 4.4% ABV) alternative to the heavier, darker beers of the cold months.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rigor Mortis - “Slaves To The Grave” CD/DVD

Fitting epitaph for fallen thrash warrior

As a final statement after the untimely passing of founder and guitarist extraordinaire Mike Scaccia, this posthumous Rigor Mortis album, their first since 1991, shows a band who might have planned on so much more. The album’s opener, “Poltergeist”, even hints at a more spacious sound. But “Rain Of Ruin” dives into what Rigor Mortis were always known for — lightning speed thrash metal. Scaccia’s guitars are, if anything else, both swifter and cleaner, and vocalist Bruce Corbitt’s voice has gotten gruffer and thicker, if that makes any sense. The band themselves are tighter and more potent than ever before, making “Slaves To The Grave” a fitting return slash epitaph for this underrated Texas act.

Recorded at Ministry’s 13th Planet Studios (the home to many of Scaccia’s works with that band), the album is a clean and killer mix of fiery speed and scalding songwriting. “Flesh For Flies” is a blur, approaching grindcore, even, while “Fragrance Of Corpse” is a fun and bouncy tale of dead bodies, re-animating corpses, and everything gore-fixated that the band was known for. “Curse Of The Draugr” showcases Scaccia’s mighty riffs well, and this album serves as a final tribute to the man who was loved by many, and in some ways was the heart of Rigor Mortis. 

The bonus DVD, attached to the first pressing of this album, is a 20+ minute look into the studio recording of the album, with all four of the band present. It’s mostly in-studio discussion with some playing, and a couple of live cuts thrown on toward the end. Nothing essential, but a great collectors’ piece for fans. 

R.I.P. Mike, and thanks to the rest of the band for realizing this final release in his honor. Thrash on!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rigor Mortis - “Rigor Mortis” CD

Classic thrash

The legendary debut album from Texas’ infamous thrash metal innovators has been at last reissued, with an added bonus track for fans (the punk-tinged “Spivey”). Originally released way back in 1988, Rigor Mortis (whose members would later go on to further notoriety with bands like Gwar and Ministry) dared to fuse ultra-speedy thrash metal with their gore movie fascination. Tracks like “Wizard Of Gore” or “Re-Animator” hold their inspirations proudly on their sleeves, and they obviously had a lot of fun doing it. Kudos for not taking themselves too seriously.

Coming around at roughly the same time as Slayer, Rigor Mortis mined much the same territory, never receiving quite the acclaim as their Bay Area brothers, but producing at least as heavy a din. Production on “Rigor Mortis” is clean, thanks to Skinny Puppy producer Dave Ogilvie’s mix, but the real treat here is the band’s skill at lightning-fast, yet clean instrumentation. Vocalist Bruce Corbitt has a raspy growl, but it never gets to the point of going all “Cookie Monster”, and guitarist Mike Scaccia had some of the speediest guitar riffs I have ever heard. This is old-school thrash metal, pure and unadulterated, and one of the genre’s most beloved templates.

Unequivocally a big influence on many a death metal act, Rigor Mortis’ debut is a recording that may not get it’s full due, but certainly has a place in many a metalhead’s heart. 

Green Isac - “Passengers” CD

Smooth ethno-electronica

Norwegian duo Green Isac have been producing worldly, ethno-tinged electronica for some time, but “Passengers” is their first release in 10 years. It all begins with the Eno & Hassell-inspired “Ormen Lounge”, which is a subtle, mysterious piece with trumpet. That piece flows into “Particle Talk”, which is a pulsing ambient piece with sounds evoking a Middle Eastern radio transmission intercepted and placed atop a bed of smooth shuffling beats. Very nice, transformative, and evocative indeed!

The remainder of the album continues in this path — inspirations from around the world are woven seamlessly into Green Isac’s smooth electronic ambience. “CSA” even draws in some synth pop to their web, and it works well. “Zakopane” brings an air of futuristic mystery, manipulating more Middle Eastern sounds around a bed of subtle synthetics. “Na Tariko” could be a less angry Muslimgauze, whereas “1034” is a reflective, haunting slice of piano and electronics. 

All said, “Passengers” is a superb, warm, and invitingly subtle album that weaves together world influence into a modern sound travelogue.

Meatmen - “Savage Sagas From The Meatmen” CD

Ugly, dirty, and ultimately great return from Tesco and friends!

The immortal Tesco Vee and compatriots are back with their first Meatmen album in 5 years, an the first of all new material in over 20! “Savage Sagas” doesn’t tidy things up neatly for the kids, though. Nope, it’s as offensive, raucous, and out of control as ever before. With such family-friendly tunes as “Pissed Hot For Weed”, “The Ballad Of Stinky Penis”, “Big Bloody Booger On The Bathroom Wall”, or “Rock ’N Roll Enema”, you know it’s gonna be fast, hard, and ugly. And it is.

“Men O Meat” opens it all up with 55 seconds of speedy garage punk. “I’m Gonna Fuck You Up” is an anthem of only a minute and a half. Yikes! Tesco, Danny Dirtbag, Hindu Kush, and Bun Length are certainly firing on all cylinders. Production is perfect — raw but clear, and these 20 songs turn in at a quick and bouncy 48 minutes. “Shecky Presents…” is a bit of a comedic interlude, but fear not, kids, as “Speed Kills (But It Sho’ Feels Good)” is a thrashy, metallic punk monster. This one takes me back to the classic days of hardcore punk — with all the subversive nihilism and attitude. I will never tire of this sound. All hail the Meatmen! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Woodchuck Cider Tasting - 2014

So we here at Goatsden are sort of known for enjoying a good beer now and again (and again, some would dare say). But, in the interest of NOT being snobbish or in any way clique-ish, we thought it high time to review some other spirits. And what better way to celebrate the snowfall in Fall as to review some new ciders?

Woodchuck (based in Vermont, USA) is probably the best-known cidery on this side of the Atlantic. And for good reason. Their distribution is amazing, and their ciders are all solid and well-balanced, at least by Goatsden standards (say no more). This review is of three specialty Woodchuck ciders, either seasonals or new varietals. On with the tasting, shall we?

Hopsation - Hop Forward Cider

Hmm, this is a nice collision of tastes, and it works better than you’d expect. It pours a very pale complexion, with a pleasant floral aroma. The grassy, citrusy, piney Cascade hops blend well among the sweet apple. It’s a subtle mix here, not overwhelmingly hoppy, but with a distinctive flavor I've not had before. Mrs. Goatsden says this one tastes more “beer-like”, and she’s spot-on. It’s balanced, tasty, and one I’ll be seeking out again. 

Winter Chill - Oak Aged Apple

This one is a mellow blend, with the cider being aged in French and American oak. Winter Chill brings a subtle vanilla accent to the apple — but it’s subtle, and there isn’t a lot of the oak character otherwise to detect. Nonetheless, this one is among my favorites from Woodchuck’s fine line.

Fall Harvest - Just Like Apple Pie

Filled with plenty of Fall spices (cinnamon and nutmeg), this tasty and sweet cider has a hint of heat from the spices to accent the sweet apple character. I really liked this one, but can see why it will be a favorite among fans of apple pie or generally sweet drinks.

Beer: Gordon Biersch - Winter Bock

GORDON BIERSCH - WINTER BOCK (San Jose, CA) 4.0 (excellent)

San Jose-based brewery/restaurant chain Gordon Biersch isn’t distributed in Indiana, but I was able to score some samples for review thanks to Colin at Emblem PR. And what samples they are! Biersch brews exclusively classic German-styled beers, so for the cold season ahead, we at Goatsden were delighted to get some bottles of Gordon Biersch’s Winter Bock for tasting.

Pours a deep caramel amber with a heaping head of of-white carbonation. I get spoke-like, spiderwebby lace on my GB25 glassware. Great appearance!

Nose is caramel malts, some spice, and nice sweet roastiness. 

Taste is, again, very much a roasty, malty, semi-sweet melding of dark malts, with a chewy caramel or toffee character dominating. There’s also an element of nuttiness in the flavor, which is perfect for a chilly snow day. This is everything a solid doppelbock should be. The body seems a tad light, but the flavor does not suffer. A solid drinking bock, and at a strong 7.5%, this is a deceptively enjoyable brew. Bravo!