Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Executioner on Patac Records

This one from Executioner came in from Patac records, out of Boston, I randomly pulled this reissue gem from the pile post-Irene and this convertible driving through the lava apocalypse seemed appropriate, if weirdly nostalgic, that demented '50s in hell look. Turns out it's from Winston Smith, who designed all those great Dead Kennedys covers, and he's even got prints of this one for sale over there, along with lots of other collage work that is most definitely NOT funded by the NEA. Thanks to the liner notes, I realized this was recorded in 1982, and that definitely changed things. Sometimes the date is the most important part of work like this, you really have to imagine the music scene back then in the bay area in CA, the lack of support for anything outside the box in the early '80s, let alone this kind of metal punk. It's also crazy to put this alongside the sing sing releases or Last Laugh's reissues from the same time period...it feels like a different world. I guess that goes to show the effects of geographic isolation on a sound that was happening all over the country.

"Fix Me" is surprisingly slow tempo and melodic, but Dave Burks vocals let you know this is going scummy punk eventually, sounding like he's puking and screaming at the same time. Not surprising, he's talking about shooting up in a style made for this irrational, cold-war, world ending, Regan times.
These guys bring the speed eventually, running right into the next track "Hellbound"...and with insane solos(?) they can most definitely deliver more than just power chord changes. I think that was the hardcore work ethic at work here. They have to be taken seriously because of the musicianship, not that they really needed anyone's approval, but it's anything but the stereotype lazy or apathetic playing that can be punk sometimes.
The B-Side, "Flatlands", is another stab at a real melody, with Dave's rough delivery that you have to appreciate that you can still understand what he's talking about....unlike a lot of those Germs tracks. I get that it's even more punk to not even be able to understand what you're even singing about, but at this point we haven't gotten to that useless competition phase yet. Plus he's talking about bombing a museum...I think you could start with a lot of other institutions first, but they shouldn't exactly be exempt either.
"Marked to Die" starts with a distanced, lo-fi distortion riff, it that slow, deliberate almost metal rhythm, something like Group Sex, which must have been an influence.
These aren't the typical power tempo, showoff speed punk tracks. They aren't all the same sounding one minute songs, it's right up there with probably some of the best legendary punk from that year...there are going to be a lot of people happy about this finally hitting vinyl almost 30 years later.

On Black vinyl with an old xerox flier from a show, lyrics printed on the reverse sleeve and black and white photos from the old days.

Get it from Patac Records...who also have an Anal Cunt shirt I can pick up now that I don't live with my mom.

Executioner - Hellbound EP San Jose Punk

It's not often that one stumbles across an unknown, undiscovered gem from the golden age of California hardcore, but that's the case with this debut release from a band that went their separate ways over 25 years ago. Formed in San Jose in 1982, Executioner's music was hard, fast, tight and loud. It contained "taboo" extended guitar solos and stop-on-a-dime tempo changes. They sounded like nobody else. A mix of hardcore West Coast punk rock, speed metal (before there WAS such a thing) and the larynx-shredding assault of singer Dave Burk's vocal missives, their music commanded attention. And they got it. A bootleg cassette of their song "Fix Me/Hellbound" became the number one requested cut on the legendary underground station KFJC for the entire year 1983. It was the number two most requested song on San Francisco's mainstream station KQAK (The Quake) the following year. All with absolutely no promotion, just word of mouth. But by that time they had called it quits, victims of their own teenage attention spans, the then-current ethos of slackerdom, and perhaps a few too many encounters with illicit substances. Their recordings sat unreleased for over two and a half decades, kept alive only by the 4th and 5th generation cassette dubs that kept on making the rounds in the following years as their legend grew. Until now... Patac Records is proud to release Executioner's long awaited debut "Hellbound." Members of Executioner went on to work with such diverse artists as Steve Jones (Sex Pistols), Guns n' Roses, 22 Jacks, Black Francis (Pixies), Throbbing Gristle, The Offs, Pete Yorn, and many others. Catch them here in their formative years, and prepare to be blown away. Cover art by WINSTON SMITH.

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