TARANTULAH, Promo Version (2012, self-released)
It was the final selfie ol’ Spider took of his bad-ass self. He drifted off to sleep listening to some shitty grind core demo tape. The cig he was enjoying fell out of his teeth and burnt the entire place to the ground. Falling asleep while smoking is bad enough, but having no lips with which to create a vaccum-tight seal around the filter? Certain death. At least he was able to treat the selfie with a cool “film negative” effect before texting it to his buddies in Tarantulah. This is their tribute to him.
I’ve never heard Malaysian grindcore before, but after sitting through this mercifully short two-song release, I never, ever, ever want to hear Malaysian grindcore again. A sloppy, shambling, shitty, pointless mess. Who needs it? If you do, check this out, or their contributions to the deliciously-titled Chaotic of Psycho Golden Triangle split.
— Friar Wagner
MAZO, Mazo (1982, Mercury)
Anything wearing a biker cap is setting itself up for gay jokes, so I won’t go there. This skull is trying so hard to be bad-ass, not just the cap but that look of near-madness in his eyes and the cig dangling from his mouth. Like, “I’ll smoke as much as I want to…I’m already dead.” The rest of the album cover has a color and design scheme that could ONLY come from some third-rate ’80s European metal band…or some new hipster band out of southern California co-opting this very aesthetic without really giving much of a fuck about real metal beyond maybe Iron Maiden…Saxon if they’re really digging deep. But I digress. I’m gonna guess Mazo sounds like a scrappy Krokus. Ah shit, I can’t help it: this skull looks flaming-ass gay.
Okay, these Spaniards are no Krokus. It’s hardly metal, actually — certainly no more metal than the punky pub-rock that sometimes passes for metal in the NWOBHM realm. Nah, this is more like Ramones meets Motorhead meets generic late ’70s hard rock meets some semi-melodic Spanish pop-punk band (I don’t know a single Spanish punk rock band, so I can’t name names). It’s very energetic, totally upbeat and bright, and a whole lot of fun if you’re into carefree, intentionally one-dimensional rock/punk. Occasionally there’s a melodic guitar line that’s somewhat in tune with the Judas Priest/Iron Maiden trad-metal vibe (“Has Cambiado”) or a riff that gets a bit more dark and serious (the last half of “Depresion” is pretty cool), so I can understand how Mazo ended up appealing to metalheads, especially in 1982, and I’ll give ’em a pass there. But as well-played as this is, and well-sung too, I can’t get into it. They’re just so damn jolly-sounding. What’s their deal, don’t they know there are huge problems to shout about in this world? Wasn’t the Iran/Contra scandal happening around this time? The Star Wars anti-missile defense system? What about all that? Mazo didn’t give a fuck. Pretty sure I would have taken a chance on this as a 12-year-old in 1982, since it has a skull on the cover, but I probably would have been disappointed even back then.
— Friar Wagner