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*special introductory paragraph!
*002/A Safe Place EP
*Give Them Rope
*Functioning On Impatience EP
*There Is Nothing New Under The Sun EP
*0:12 Revolution In Just Listening EP
*Salt and Passage 7"

Disco dancing out of Kansas City, MO in 1994, Coalesce quickly became one of the earliest and most astonishing bands of the 'metalcore' subgenre. Like Botch, The Dillinger Escape Plan and a nation of followers, Coalesce combined the technicality of math-rock, the screamed vocals of hardcore, the raw noisy guitar anger of '90s AmRep noise-rock and the 15,000-different-parts-in-every-song of death metal. Sean Ingram bellowed with his lips pursed like an NYHC meathead; Jes Steineger 'shredded' with a combination of sick high-speed chord sequences, twisted diddle-iddle-iddle pull-off note runs and ugly high-pitched brash BRRNG!s; James DeWees pounded out 40 different time signatures per song; and bassist Stacy Hilt/Nathan Ellis used distortion. Before you read ahead, please note that the Coalesce discography is a reviewer's eveninghorse (nightmare): 002/A Safe Place apparently combines a re-recording of their 1995 002 EP with a single that was never available separately anyway; Give Them Rope appears to have been remixed and remastered as Give Them Rope She Said v2.0; Led Zep covers album There Is Nothing New Under The Sun seems to have been reissued with eight non-Zep bonus tracks; and 0:12 A Revolution In Just Listening now claims to have been remastered as 012:2. So as you read the reviews below, keep in mind that the albums I describe may sound nothing at all like the ones you end up buying.

Especially Functioning On Impatience because for that one I just reviewed an old pair of pants.

002/A Safe Place EP - Second Nature 1998
Rating = 7

Here, check this out - I'm totally gonna do an impression now:


Yep, you guessed it! It's Coalesce's vocalist reciting the entire United States Constitution.

I'm not saying it's easy to vocalize atop music that changes every four seconds, but surely Mr. Ingram could've come up with something better than "the Agnostic Front guy with his lips slammed in a door." Still, if it's music you're after, you've chosen the right medium. These five songs combine aggressive death metal pummelling, sluggish Sabbath sludge, unorthodox Helmet-esque (i.e. tight, heavy, fast, staccato) chord sequences, time changes aplenty, guitar hero pull-off lick-riffin', and (unfortunately) a few moments of irredeemable ugliness and tedium. Success for this band means unique and innovative passages, of which there are many on this release; failure means simple, slow unpleasantness.

The mix features a guitar in each speaker - very loud, bassy and mean, but not overly fuzzed out or speed-metal-sharp. Since there are only five songs on here, I'll try to give you a quick description of each one. This will help you to determine whether or not to waste 30 seconds downloading the entire CD off the Internet:

"73-C" - This is the most 'death metal' song on the disc, as evidenced by my pitiful struggling-to-keep-up notes, which read as follows (in progressively messier handwriting): "Catchy aggression, note thing - slows down into slow chords, then pummelling other part, into 4-note thing, then slower again, then another slow riff, then roundabout slow chord sequence then pummeling and clangy harmonics then another slow chord change bit then guitars squiggling around and tons of changes acoupledullslowpartsbutalsolotsofgoodagrsvbits and GOOD! Medabit slwptt"

"Grain Of Salt" - Total AmRep action! Fast up-down-around chord changes in 6/4 time (with a 9/4 break) - like classic Helmet but faster. Probably the most instantly ass-kicking song on here, but then I'm a huge AmRep fan so you may want to take that with a (heh heh - here comes a hilarious joke, you may want to call your friends over for this one) "grain o

"Simulcast" - Enjoyably thick sludge and 5/4 Helmetisms soon lose their way to gross high-pitched CRANG!, yucky guitar plickities, stomping shitty racket and one-chord tedium. Seldom has a song in the world started off so great and ended so piece of crap.

And yes, I used 'piece of crap' as an adjective. Hey, just be glad I didn't use it as a crayon! Heh heh heh.

Okay, I used it as a crayon.

"A Safe Place" - Have you heard that Fall song "The Steak Place"? I'll give you six guesses what song I get stuck in my head whenever I see the Coalesce song title "A Safe Place." This one is much heavier and thicker than the 002 tracks, and combines AmRep Fuzz-Pummel-Repeat with swoopy fret-sliding hopelessness (as well as a quick stop into Primus territory during a pleasingly bizarre guitar break in the middle). As Pulitzer-winning Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, I give this song a thumbs up! I honestly don't know much about songs though; I'm a film critic.

"Blend As Well" - The disparate elements of this song unfortunately don't "blend as well" as t

"Blend As Well" - Finger-droppin' heart-stoppin' diddle-iddle-ooooooo! Then some chords or something. Then back to finger-droppin' heart-stoppin' diddle-iddle-ooooooo! Then some other stuff.

When you choose technicality over hooks (for example, by cramming six hundred different riffs into a 3-minute song, repeating each one half a time), it's crucial that you keep each section as interesting and creative as the last. Otherwise, your audience is likely to tune out during the duller passages and not put forth the considerable effort of tuning back in later on.

So the question is -- did Coalesce succeed in this daunting task?


Not here though; on their next album.

Reader Comments
so the deal here is that earache (who they were signed to for like 10 minutes) took the original 002 out of print and refused to give the band back the rights to it, so they re-recorded it and added the tracks from the a safe place 7" which WAS available separately. i think this was a blessing in disguise because the re-recording sounds 3452839432 times better than the original. though you might like the original better mark, that slow bit at the end of simulcast isn't on that version. but actually that's my favorite coalesce song and i fucking love that slow bit at the end. yes it's simple, but that's what i like about it. after 525 changes, they suddenly bring it down to this simple cathartic nothing. sean's screams could give women miscarriages. i think this also highlights how your approach as a listener is different than mine and why we have very divergent opinions on the same records. you listen for the technical aspects, while i am primarily interested in the feel of it, particularly on a visceral level. and that's what i love about coalesce, they're just so fucking visceral, yet so fucking smart. that bit at the end of simulcast makes me cringe and grit my teeth. actually, pretty much the whole 002 EP does that for me. i love it. i don't love a safe place quite as much, but it still does it for me, especially that riff at the end of blend as well. a 9.

Add your thoughts?

Give Them Rope - Edison 1997
Rating = 9

I really must stress that Stacy and Jes of band Coalesce are big fans of Yes.
Okay I confess I just took a guess. Do you trust me less? Oh no, what a mess.
No, don't call the press! I'm wearing a dress! They know my address -- they'll all call me "Bess"!
Here comes Rudolf Hess! And Eliot Ness! And Anderson, Wes! Who's next -- Hardy's 'Tess'!?
Oh pool made of cess! They throw watercress! What awful duress! Good night and God bless.

In addition to poetry, I conduct business seminars. In fact, stick around because right now I'm about to begin a seminar on How To Make A Great Album:

So you want to make a great album! Well, as I told John Lennon in 1979, "There's a first time for everything!" Heh heh heh. Yes, a great album is a rare feast for the ears - a delicacy of sight and sound (predominantly sound) whose pickled flavors and tangy delights fill our hearing-stomachs yet leave us hankering for more. Until now, the ability to make a great album has been limited to such high-powered luminaries as The Joboxers, and Mick Jaggey. But now, even lowly old YOU can make one! Just follow these proprietary step-by-step instructions, and I promise you will have all the tools necessary to create a truly great album:

STEP ONE: Record the album Give Them Rope by Coalesce.

Okay, that's it! That'll be 1100 dollars.

When you're finished "filing" your nails, you can "file" this CD next to The Dillinger Escape Plan's Calculating Infinity in your "JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!" cabinet. Every song has 4 thousand jillion different parts, and most of them are confusing, compelling and absolutely unique. And sure, it just sounds like a calamitous trainwreck if you treat it as background music, but a close listen reveals each song as almost sickmakingly creative. You will literally vomit onto the top of your own head, somehow when you realize that Coalesce has crammed more innovative passages into this 40-minute album than God crammed into his entire Bible.

And remember -- this was 1997. A full two years before Calculating Infinity. A full THREE years before Botch's We Are The Romans. A full ELEVEN years before Alanis Morissette's Flavors Of Entanglement. A full TWENTY-FOUR years after The Grass Roots' Alotta Mileage. A full SIXT

The current Coalesce equation is as follows:

DEATH METAL: aggression; speedy technical note runs; tiny riffs that go away immediately
MATH-ROCK: abrasion; constant time-signature changes; extremely tight playing
AMREP NOISE-ROCK: anger; sick, fuzzed-out chord changes; idiosyncratic noises and instrumental approaches
NEW YORK HARDCORE: rage; one-note bellowed vocals
SABBATH SLUDGE METAL: queasily slow, heavy passages
HIGH-PITCHED TREBLY GUITAR SNIPPETS: I just didn't know where to put this one. Jes often incorporates teensy high-end CLING!s and FLING!s in the middle of otherwise heavy low-end chord sequences

Every song is an ADD-afflicted combination of these musical elements, twisting and squalling between dozens of awesomely 'wicked' and bizarre guitar lines. The guitar tone is fuzzier than before, but still unpolished and raw. Jes interjects more finger-tapping diddle-diddlying than before, and his note combinations are just as amazing and off-kilter as his chord changes. And this band is so excruciatingly tight and well-practiced. These songs must have taken FOREVER to learn! They go ALL OVER the goddamned place! Like an untrained dog, as a metaphor salesman might say!

Although Coalesce does follow a formula throughout Give Them Rope (meaning that it all kinda sounds the same if you're not paying attention), it's just such a FUCKED-UP formula that it sounds absolutely incredible and like nobody else. Plus, even though some of the songs use the same tricks and techniques, the actual riffs remain fresh all the way through. And there are TONS of them. Tons? Hell, MANY!

Lyric-wise, Ingram can be awfully obscure and personal in his wording, but he seems to attack such topics as racism ("And Darwin gave you the science to use bigotry and come off scholarly"), Atheism ("By your own word we are all gods and everyone anyone might think undesirable deserves death"), and judicial leniency towards sex offenders ("She's tore to her navel- his sick idea of growing pains") in between all the inscrutable songs about politics, rope and wanting a baby. Damn your riddles, Sean Ingram! Stop speaking in tongues!

Buy it and listen to it closely. I'm very serious about this. If you just let it play in the background as you focus on something else, it will sound like nothing but a monolithic wall of anger, picking out its own bricks and throwing them at you. Sit between the speakers and pay attention, however, and you'll find yourself enjoying such delightful sounds as these:

"For All You Are" - "Diddle-diddle-diddle-doooo!"
"Still It Sells" - "BRANK!-wicka-wicka-wicka-BRANK!-wicka-wicka-wicka!"
"Chain Smoking" - "Swoop-swoop-swoop-swoop-GLING!"
"This Is The Last" - "Rat-a-tat! Chug-chug-chug! CLANG CLANG! And I realize that in print, this looks like somebody shooting at a train."

In conclusion, accept no substitute: this is THE Coalesce album.

At least it was until 2009's Ox. All the others are under 30 minutes with fewer than 10 songs, and are therefore EPs (or "Extended Play"s).

Hey, don't bitch at ME! I don't make the rules!

(I simply enforce them, as a high-ranking officer of the EP Police Department. I've got my eye on you, The Power Of Lard!!!!)

Actually, that's not true. I did make up those rules. But they make sense, right? Even the goddamned RAMONES never put out an album shorter than a half-hour. So where do Coalesce get off putting out a 24-minute flexi-single and calling it a DVD box set!?!?!?

Reader Comments
this one took me a long time to really warm up to. i always loved have patience, but with the rest i felt like so much was happening that i couldn't get a hold of it (also sean kind of ozzy's his vocals on this one which annoys me a bit), but eventually i realized that that's ok. its sheer overwhelmingness is one of its main strengths. like i said, i love visceralness, and this one has it in fucking spades. it really and truly hurts to listen to.

actually, i sat down and though about this today after i read your reviews and i realized why i love coalesce so much. in a lot of ways, they remind me of the birthday party. not in any actual stylistic similarities (except maybe odd time changes), but rather in their mutual insistences on being completely and totally abrasive. granted, heavy music is generally pretty abrasive, but when you have bands relying on riffs and grooves and such, there's a level of comfort there where you can just sort of bob your head or whatnot. but with coalesce and the birthday party, it's as though they deliberately go out of their way to make their music as difficult to listen to as humanely possible. so even if you do like it, part of it is because, on some level, you like how painful it is. and another thing about coalesce in relation to hardcore in general, is they sound genuinely sound fucking angry. see, those original hardcore bands started playing music like that because they needed something more to convey sheer anger and rage. and i feel like too many hc bands now are just made up of kids who grew up on that shit and play it 'cause that's what they're into, but without having that same anger and drive. but coalesce to me is much more like black flag than any modern hc band. the anger is palpable and real. sean sounds like he wants to rip your fucking head off.

anyways, i give this a 9. the original version would probably get an 8. they really did do a great job re-presenting it.

Add your thoughts?

Functioning On Impatience EP - Second Nature 1998
Rating = 6

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that many fans consider this to be Coalesce's finest moment. And if the entire release were as astonishing as the last three songs, I would agree. Unfortunately, three of the first four songs are marred by simplistic, slow and boring segments, and the fourth is a worthless 'avant-garde' recording by the otherwise excellent drummer.

But the last three songs are a GODSEND from HELL! Filled head to toe with insanely creative pull-off madness, herky-jerk vrooming and wah-wah-ckkkk-ckkkk-ckkkking, "On Being A Bastard," "Measured In Gray" and "A Disgust For Details" not only match the high mark psychotic attack of Give Them Rope, but even inject a bit of hookiness into the proceedings, with a hilariously light-hearted recurring riff in the former, Jesus Lizardy brooding note riff in the latter, and both End Hitsy fret decay and Voivody sci-fi harmony runs in the middle one. Not sure if there's a word for 'the middle one.'

The first four songs, however, just sound like slower and less consistent rehashes of Give Them Rope material. The heavy AmRep chord changes, hammer-on/pull-off note runs and high-pitched "SKREE!"s are all present, but now they're suddenly throwing in all these boring, sluggish one- and two-chord parts that don't do anything but take time away from the cool parts. And most of "My Love For Extremes" is just an ugly, yucky, high-pitched, trebly irritant - like a swarm of cicadas burrowing into your ears to lay eggs and watch TV. So up your ass, the first four songs! Oh sure, you have your moments but so did Nazi Germany and you don't see THEM putting out an album!

Nazi Germany Moments:
- Stormtrooper smiles, pets a dog
- Hitler Youth decides not to kick old Jewish woman's teeth in, because the ice cream man is coming
- They lose

See? What kind of album would THAT make? Not a very goddamned good one, I'd say! So shame on you Coalesce, for promoting Hitler and National Socialism with your Functioning On Eugenics EP.

Reader Comments
see, i LIKE the slow simplistic parts. they form a nice contrast to the ultra-complex parts. and the way they're implemented, and the way the songs are organized and paced is fucking great. especially in the middle of the first track, the way the riff comes in, stops then comes in again...perfect! and this is the first time they really bring in RIFFS. yes this sort of contradicts my last comment, but even when they're playing riffs, they do it in such a way as to still be unpredictable and unpleasant. this sort of stands as the perfect combination of the sheer chaos of give them rope and the rifftasticness of 0:12. the song-writing sounds so on-point to me, the sheer impact and strength and unrelenting nature of the material, combined with a brief running length that keeps it all from getting stale. i even like the soundscape track, it's a nice break, though they probably should have sequenced it later in the album. a fucking 10.

Add your thoughts?

There Is Nothing New Under The Sun EP - Hydra Head 1999
Rating = 6

I realize that many people out there in Radioville hate Led Zeppelin. This review is not for those people.

Zeppelin fucken rules and to think that you could improve on anything they ever fucken did (besides "I Can't Quit You Baby") is a fucken (oh, and that dumb disco part at the end of "Carouselambra") joke, you'd might as well fuck your (actually, does Coda count? Because "Darlene" is pretty awful) mother trying to make a better you because Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham and John (ooo I nearly forgot "In My Time Of Dying" - am I nuts or does that sound like a practice take?) Paul Jones were fucken geniuses who had hard rock tied around their little (the verses in "Ten Years Gone" are a drag too) fin (to be honest, I could do without the boring slow part in the middle of "Carouselambra" too) gers and Deep Purple can suck it because ("Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp" stinks) the first part of "Carouselambra" RULES!!!!

There Is Nothing New Under The Sun is Coalesce's strangely-guided Led Zeppelin tribute CD, featuring 7 songs and 28 minutes of original Zep compositions unimproved in any way. Oh, they change some things here and there to make the songs their own; the problem is they tend to change them for the worse. You know that killer guitar break in the middle of "Heartbreaker"? The fast one under the solo? Coalesce replaces it with two slow chords. And remember the beautiful, heartbreaking instrumental coda of "That's The Way," where Jimmy's guitar conveys emotions as rich and complex as life itself? Coalesce replaces it with Jimmy Buffett. How about the timeless, legendary guitar lick of "Black Dog"? Coalesce changes one of the key notes, leaving the (probably wrong) impression that the guitarist was just incapable of learning it correctly. And the hilarious thumpy-fuzzy non-hit "Out On The Tiles"? Coalesce needlessly uglifies the riff and adds a squeaky part to the middle to no clear effect. I KNOW!!! YOU'RE ALL LIKE "HAY HOW CAN YOU SAY THEY DIDN'T IMPROVE ANYTHING WHEN 'OUT ON THE TILES' NOW HAS A SQUEAKY PART IN THE MIDDLE" BUT IT'S TR

The best moments, unsurprisingly, occur when the band simply plays the goddamned songs the way they were written. "Immigrant Song" POUNDS, with a brutal guitar tone and huge drum sound that improves upon the trebly Zep III mix one-billion-fold. "Whole Lotta Love" also sounds inspired, with a fret-sliding 'neeeeooooowww' after each verse and the hilarious spectacle of Sean Ingram bellowing "WAY DOOOOOOWWWWNNN! I'LL GIVE YOU EVERY IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINCH!!! YAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!" Finally, "Thank You" is performed in a lovely acoustic setting, with Sean actually singing if you can believe that, and Jes contributing a surprisingly melodic electric guitar solo. These three songs work, no question about it. The middle part of "Whole Lotta Love" is a bit empty, but come on let's stay positive here in the positive paragraph.

On the singing jib, Sean's bellow understandably sounds a bit awkward in rockers written with high-pitched Plant in mind, but thankfully a bit of melodic back-up is provided by drummer DeWees and the Get Up Kids' Matt Pryor ("We are your overlords," "All I need from you is all your love," "Ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah, AAAAAHHHH," that sort of thing). And who knew Sean could actually carry a tune, as he does in both "Thank You" and "That's The Way"? He uses a low, somber, studied tone that could be construed as cold and lifeless but actually works in both of these songs, converting them into the near-catatonic reflections of an extremely depressed man.

Speaking of which, I just thought of a hilarious "Weird Al" Yankovic-esque parody of the first couple lines of "That's The Way," check this out:

"I don't know how I'm gonna smell you
I don't have a nose no more"

Ha ha! Whimsical glee for all!

In short, this is a confounding release. If anything on here is worth hearing, it's because of Led Zeppelin, not Coalesce. But they did manage not to ruin every song, so I'll give them credit for that.

Your credit, that is. You're still Mastercard #3656 3097 4067 6498, correct? You didn't change it after I bought that $500 rubber?

Hey, come on; it had a drawing of a golf ball and the phrase "For this one, I'll need my driver." What was I SUPPOSED to do?

Reader Comments
led zeppelin was the first rock band i ever truly fell in love with. and while i don't play the shit out of them like i did when i was 13, i've never lost my taste for them. that's why i put off buying this one for a long time. it just seemed like a bad idea. and it kind of is, but i like it anyway. the story here is that jes and his dad were kind of estranged and he didn't understand or like jes's music, so the band decided to do a cover record of led zeppelin songs (his dad's favorite band) to kind of help bridge a gap there. apparently it didn't work. i think the other point was to kind of move people past that "fuck dinosaur rock!" punk rock attitude and show that bands like coalesce owe a huge debt to bands like zep. it's a lot of stupid fun. there's something really entertaining about sean screaming whole lotta love, and i fucking LOVE that high-pitched part in the middle of out on the tiles. i like how subtly alter zep riffs to turn them into coalesce riffs. plus it's just hard to fuck up songs that great. i've heard varying rumors of who actually sings the two acoustic songs, so i would like to have it confirmed. it sure as hell doesn't sound like sean, but who knows? against my better judgement i'm going to give it an 8

Add your thoughts?

0:12 Revolution In Just Listening EP - Relapse 1999
Rating = 8

When I interviewed John Doe of X lo so many years ago hence (, if you must know), he spoke the following piece of truth about songwriting, "If you have a down period, try not to get frightened of it or don't get spooked by it. Just let it go. Let it go until you feel like playing again. And I think trying to be inventive with yourself and listening to other people and learning other peoples' songs - that's good. I still do that. That's a lot of fun too. And you can figure out the way different chords go together. You can figure out the way that they treat melodies against those chords."

Not that most people would consider Functioning On Impatience a 'down period,' but I do and I'm the one writing the goddamn reviews. The Give Them Rope sound was a groundbreaking and braintangling creation, but FOI just seemed like a less consistent take on it. Was this to be their doom? Retaining their signature style to lesser and lesser effect with each new release? SHIT NO, and that's why they're geniuses.

No, instead they chose to do a covers album. And sure it wasn't very good, but it opened their eyes, ears and fingers to an entirely new influence -- 1970's hard rock. And they liked it. At this point, a lazier or less intelligent group would have wholeheartedly embraced this simpler style and turned into a straightforward metal band (see Obituary). But Coalesce is no Fool's Paradise; what they chose to do not only completely revitalized their sound, but gave them their first (and only) CD that can be enjoyed not only as a brainteaser but as background music too!

You see, 012: Revolution In Just Listening is a combination of Coalesce and '70s hard rock. The guitar riffs are still super-creative and unique, the odd time changes and sick death metal note licks are still in there, and if you expected Sean to suddenly start singing - well, that was a mistake on your part. HOWEVER, mixed into the mathmetalcore insanity brew are Aerosmith-toned hard rock riffs, funky Nazareth-ish passages, crazy Yes-esque prog rock and swinging Sabbath-influenced stoner metal. Not only that, but they've replaced their '30,000 parts per minute' ethos with a new 'Hey, let's actually make this sound like a song, with like recurring parts and shit' outlook. As such, each song generally only has three or four different parts - but they're GREAT, idiosyncratic parts that could ONLY have been written by this band!

If you are unfamiliar with this crazy 'metalcore' genre, 012: Revolution In Just Listening is an excellent introduction. And I say this because it was my introduction! Along with Converge's equally good Jane Doe, it was recommended to me in 2001 by a guy on a message board in response to my query, "Are there any good new hardcore bands I should hear?" Though neither band actually fits into the traditional mold of 'hardcore,' my mind was blown by how many different ideas they threw into each song. Revolution in particular was unlike anything I'd ever heard -- and still is! The songs drive along on a familiar Highway of Hard Hooks, then suddenly (and constantly) veer onto completely unexpected off-ramps of aggression, demented guitar lines and difficult time-signatures -- before returning to the familiar Highway! I loved this record instantly - something I can't even say about Give Them Rope, which just sounded like 40 minutes of rage until I finally sat down to give it my full attention.

Theoretically, such accolades would imply an easy 10 out of 10, but unfortunately the last two tracks can go suck an egg. "They Always Come In Fall" is another ho-hum 'avant-garde' experimental noise piece, and the ugly monotonous "Counting Murders And Drinking Beer" would be titled "Counting Chords And Finding One" if honesty were a treasured trait to this band of monsters. Having said that, the first seven songs are so 10-worthy it's ludicridous.

Lyrically, Sean mostly addresses the issues of Life In A Travelin' Rock And Roll Band, but from a perspective far, far removed from that of earlier rocklife commentators as Bon Jovi, Bob Seger and Creedence Clearwater Revival. See here:

"We all know why you're still holding on to this. Either to run away from your family or to be something you can no longer be.... But I think maybe time has caught up with me. You see, when her eyes light up, it all seems so trivial to ever leave again. I will never leave again."

"If you still need to double check my work to make sure you agree. If you need to see an 'X' before and after every title before it's relevant, then I've wasted six years of my life on the simple notion this was an open forum."

"You're just another P.C. jackass operation. Self-imposed poverty in squalor for bitching rights is embarrassing... You have an out. Real people don't. Real people don't give a shit how you think they should live."

"We take ourselves so seriously. We never leave our politics at home and just live. There will always be some struggle. Well, sometimes selling out is waking up."

These are great lyrics, both insightful and honest (right-wing though they've been accused of being). Unfortunately they don't rhyme and thus aren't any good. Come on lazyass, "We take ourselves so seriously/Never leaving our politics at home are we" wouldn't have been that tough. And a reference to 'G.G.'s Black Mass Copulation' would have been a phenomenal follow-up to 'P.C. ja

In an actual serious 'unfortunately,' Sean is also again yelling about issues so specific to his own life that it's impossible for anybody who doesn't know him to figure out what in Hell he's talking about. See below:

"And you, you Terry, you fall right in line with your 'more gore' and your 'more fuck' and attitude that everyone is a fake but you. Well, fucker you're the fake!"

Goddamn right!!! Fuckin' Terry.

Piece a shit.

Oh wait there's more.

"You didn't have to go out like that John, you didn't have to do that. We love you."

See, unless he's talking about a toilet here, I've no clue how it's supposed to apply to my life as a listener. Ditto for an entire song about "Rick Thorne." Who the hell is "Rick Thorne"?

Okay, according to Wikipedia, he's a professional BMX rider. But who is he on the inside?

Here's another terrific lyric that applies to all of us in our everyday lives as Coalesce fans and supporters:

"Playing that shitty bass.... You have used that grinning 'No English' crap for the last time on me. And since when does a shot of paint elevate the classes? You run around real cute with your rainbows, like we don't know."

Umm.... We don't!

But enough hilarious jokes from me. You must think I'm a regular Jerry Seinfeld! Who am I, Denis Leary? Come on, I'm not here to be Mitch Hedberg. If you wanted jokes, you'd be on Zach Galifianakis's web site! I'm here to talk about music, not act like Chris Rock. Is my name "Wanda Sykes"? It's ridiculous the way I'm up here acting like Eddie Murphy. Do I look like Todd Barry? Come on, you don't see Bill Cosby talking about music! Sure, I may be as funny as Garry Shandling, and as witty as Joe Rogan, and as hilarious as Emo Philips, and as uproarious as Eddie Izzard, and as laugh out loud as Mike Birbiglia, and as piss your pants as George Carlin, and as suffer a debilitating stroke as Jim Gaffigan, and as die in a horrible car accident as Rodney Dangerfield, and as murder 50 people with an axe as Sinbad, but one thing I will never, ever be is a comedian, like Richard Pryor.

Damon Wayans

P.S. David Steinberg!

Reader Comments
Heavy heavy heavy! This is actually the only album of theirs I've heard, so I didn't realize that they used to sound a bit different. Those loose rockin riffs, especially in the first song, are sooo awesome. And Ingram's vocals kinda don't fit, as they're almost too tough guy. But it ends up not mattering. Great stuff. And apparently they've been recording new songs and touring a bit recently!
if you're going to consider "group sex" an album, i think you should consider this one to be too. but yeah, i love this one. the riffs are fantastic. not quite the sheer abrasiveness of before, but it makes up for it with riff after riff that all fucking slay. and once again, organized and paced in such a way to keep it from sounding like a 70s rock retread. and i love that first lyric which you also pointed out, "we all know why you're still holding on to this". i love that they question their own motives for wanting to be in a band. it shows a much greater degree of intelligence and insight than most of their peers have. a 9.
This is the only Coalesce i've made it all the way through... and it actually is a very good album. A good 23 minute or however long it is album. The first song "What Happens on the Road" was a great almost Southern doom sounding number... and i was fond of most of the others too. Whereas the 40 minutes of Give Them Rope was a little trying, 23 minutes seems just right for an album by Coalesce. I haven't heard either album since like 2000 or so though.

Loved those lyrics too, esp. when he rips on 'people who need to see an X before everything.' Straightedgers are fun to write lyrics about. I considered myself straightedge for about 5 minutes when i was 20, then realized that, much like what a certain writer said about Steve Albini, straightedge was basically for college kids. And I had just dropped out. Then I turned 21 right after. The near-decade since then, well, that's for another time. But I'll a raise a glass to Sean Ingram and Coalesce for what i consider their best album 012, which i give 9/10.

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Salt and Passage 7" - Crash And Bang 2007
Rating = 8

It's good to have the guys back. Welcome back, guys!

The guys are back with this single and it's a hell of a job. This one's for you, guys!

I know we all missed the guys, but now they're back. Keep it up, guys!

"Son Of Son Of Man" is particularly good, with its bendy sliding Fugazi/Jesus Lizard staccato chord sections, dark note riff segments and closing STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP part. It's midtempo and fairly easy to follow (but not musically 'simple'), putting it in the Revolution In Just Listening category. So I'd like to congratulate the guys on that one.

That's not to say that the math-rockin'/distorted-squealing-vocalled "I Am This" doesn't also have its moments because I'll be fucked up the ass with a toilet plunger if it doesn't also have some swell passages.

Abner Louima

P.S. Way to go, guys!


P.P.P.S. 1997 jokes are hilarious.

P.P.P.P.S. Why was Michael Schumacher banned from the Circuito Permanente de Jerez Restaurant?

For constantly whipping out his "Dry Sac" and rubbing it on the chandelier!

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* Ox - Relapse 2009 *
Rating = 10

Knock knock!
Who's there?
Pee who?
"Pee-Yoo" is right! This joke stinks!

Actually, I should go ahead and warn you that the actual record review doesn't start for another 14 paragraphs or so. So if THAT'S what you're here for, you may want to scroll down.

The other night I had a hilarious (terrible) idea for a movie whose opening scene went a-something like this:

(close-up on tough mafia guy): "You got some set of balls there, pal."

(pan over to his equally tough mafia buddy): "Yeah, some pretty fuckin' big ones."

(zoom out to show their third companion, a nerdy little guy with his pants around his ankles): "Awwwww! Do they make my dink look small?"

Then up pops the title: Big Balls! (or, alternately, National Lampoon's Big Balls!). The whole movie would follow the exploits of a guy with enlarged testicles and his wacky, woolly misadventures with the ladies. (Sample dialogue: "No! I...uhh... just got out of a cold shower!"). Yes, it's always a great time at the Rated-R '80s Sex Comedy Theater when Mark Prindle's in town, writing his art films!

I shared this brilliant idea with my wife a few nights ago, and she replied, "Did your mother irradiate her womb while you were in there?"

Sadly, this may very well have been the case, seeing as how I "enjoyed" another rousing bout of Sleep Paralysis last night. If you're unfamiliar with Sleep Paralysis, oh ho mister you haven't lived. Essentially your eyes are open so you think you're awake, but you can't move any part of your body because you're NOT awake. So then you become terrified because you can't figure out what the hell is going on. When this began happening to me last night, I immediately recognized it as Sleep Paralysis, said to myself, "Okay, I get it. I think I'm awake, but I'm actually still asleep. No biggy; I'll just return to sleep now." BUT THEN SOMETHING ELSE HAPPENED.

I read up on Sleep Paralysis the last time it happened to me, and learned that it often includes terrifying hallucinations such as a gargoyle or other creature in your room. In fact, folks in the know believe that Sleep Paralysis is to blame for the majority of 'UFO abduction' and 'out-of-body experience' reports. Astonishingly, I even remembered this fact last night, at one point thinking to myself, "Okay, I understand that I may see a creature in my room, but it will be a hallucination. Nevertheless, it is going to SCARE THE HELL OUT OF ME if it happens, so I hope it doesn't happen." What I wasn't prepared for, however, was the something else that did happen.

Have you ever had an auditory hallucination? If not, then until about 22 hours ago, you and I had a lot in common! Sadly, everything has changed and I hardly know you anymore. Here's the reason: every time I started to fall back asleep, I experienced an abso-fuck-goddamn-lutely TERRIFYING auditory hallucination. I could sense it coming because my limbs would start shivering as I got closer to the sleeping stage. And when I reached that stage, a stereophonic ringing noise would slowly develop in my ears and quickly increase in volume until it was so overwhelmingly loud that I woke up screaming. (Well, in my head I was screaming. Out loud, it sounded more like "uhh.") But see, I could barely wake myself all the way up. And it would inevitably only last for a few seconds before (a) I could no longer move, (b) my limbs began tingling as I feel back asleep, (c) the infernal ringing began again, and (d) I woke up screaming. I could never find enough energy to call out to my wife (who had fallen asleep on the couch downstairs earlier) or even drag myself out of bed to turn on the light. This cycle occurred over and over and over again for what felt like hours but was probably more like 30 minutes. The only alteration is that sometimes, instead of the ringing, I would hear a gigantic 50-pound fly buzzing around my head from ear to ear. I realize this sounds like lots of fun, but let me susplain something at you.

I didn't know that auditory hallucinations were a symptom of Sleep Paralysis. As such -- compounded by the fact that, being stuck in Sleep Paralysis, I couldn't wake up -- I began to fear that a demon of some sort was trying to infiltrate and possess my body. YES, OF COURSE IT SOUNDS HILARIOUS NOW, but keep in mind that I was asleep. And I have nightmares constantly; this was something different. This was an unexplainable sensory phenomenon invading my brain at an ungodly volume while I was unable to move. And as it continued, I even tried to ignore the rising volume of the noise, saying to myself, "I'll just ignore it and it will go away." But every time, it reached a level that was so horrifyingly, unspeakably loud that I had to scream myself awake.

Thankfully, being a non-believer in demons, I eventually changed my fear to a different yet equally paranoid one: that I was the subject of some kind of sonic torture. As an avid reader of Feral House publications, I have read many a chapter about such alleged tortures (involving such dastardly acts as directing painful sound frequencies at an individual's home), and this experience certainly seemed to fit the bill! The only thing I couldn't figure out was "Why me!?" Because of the dangerous anti-government propaganda I regularly espouse on Fox News' Red Eye?

Finally, around the fifteenth time I woke myself up screaming (i.e. "...uuuh."), I developed a new and more practical theory: that my specific location in the bed was causing my ears to pick up sound vibrations from the neighbors' air conditioner that were then somehow feeding back and creating a horrible loop of sound in my head. How I finally fell back asleep I have no idea, but I then dreamt that I woke up and told my wife about the experience. Then I dreamt this three more times!

It probably comes as no surprise that I slept until 2:00 PM.

Thank God Coalesce is back. Ox is a heavy, tight, visceral, creative and hook-filled classic. The singer's still roaring like a pit bull, and the band is as interconnected, aggressive and brilliant as they've ever been. These songs merge math-metal, metalcore, noise rock, and doom metal with some of the coolest and meanest note riffs they've ever written. The time signatures and drum patterns are constantly changing, serving as angry counting bliss on the ears. And although they are no longer tossing '70s rock riffs into the mix, they do throw in a number of wonderful and unexpected 'accessible' touches, such as:

- a 45-second segment of bottleneck guitar and slapback blues howling! ("Wild Ox Moan")
- a passage of primitive chain gang chanting! ("In My Wake, For My Own")
- a pair of somber, melancholy and non-distorted guitar instrumentals! ("Where Satire Sours" and "We Have Lost Our Will" -- the latter of which even has a piano!)
- some sung vocals! ("The Comedian In Question")
- an almost danceable SINGALONG passage! ("There Is A Word Hidden In The Ground")
- two tracks that suddenly break into haunting passages reminiscent of earlier eras ("The Purveyor of Novelty And Nonsense"'s medieval bell-clanging coda and "Dead Is Dead"'s Civil War midsection) (not that Chris Isaak played guitar in the Civil War, but come on - listen to those drums! Feel that mood! That's old-timey death, sorrow and WAR!)

This record is easily the equal of Give Them Rope. That record is more complicated, groundbreaking and out-of-control, but this one's comparative "accessibility" certainly doesn't come at the expense of intelligence, imaginativeness, skill and catchiness. There, I typed it and you heard me do so: these songs are catchy. Angry as a bee hive full of wolverines, but filled to the ceiling sky with great guitar riffs! If you want to be throttled and thrown out in the street, buy Give Them Rope. But if you want to become a Coalesce fan, buy Ox first.

As for the lyrics, Sean's words are again so deep in metaphor, so personal in intent, and so vague in meaning that I honestly couldn't tell you for sure what any of these songs are about. At a few points, he seems to show remorse for one-night stands (?), at other points he appears to question the worth of his art (?), and there might be one or two anti-organized religion messages in there (?). But who knows? He's not exactly Lou Barlow.

My suggestion: BUY THE LIVING HELL OUT OF THIS ALBUM. We're five months into the year and I haven't heard a new release that comes anywhere close to this one in terms of intensity, creativity and re-listenability.

And use the Amazon link below please. Thank you.

Reader Comments
I've heard two songs off their Myspace page and am completely fucking excited about this record!!!!! I can't believe they were on the lamb for so long and came back with a 10 on the Prindl-o-meter. SHIT. I totally concur about Give Them Rope, so I'm completely excited about this. I've felt like they've done no wrong up until that Zeppelin cover album, but Revolution in Just Listening was another badass record. The fact that I can't fucking find this anywhere on torrent is even more of a cockblock, but fuels my eagerness to pick it up on the 9th!!!!! Long live these Mid-west KINGS! Next question, will I EVER get to see these motherfuckers LIVE?!

I fucking love these guys, Mark!

(one week later)

Hey, Mark.
After a full listen, it still managed to exceed my expectations. Totally unexpected, challenging moments here and there just in a very, VERY good way. We finally have clear, FORCEFUL guitar tone from Jes Steineger. The rhythm section is a little more tame(for coalesce, anyway) but a perfect match to keep the beat strong.
I gotta be honest in that I was seriously skeptical of them coming out of the woodwork so long out of the game, but it looks like they are the only ones among their peers(converge, dillinger, botch, etc) who actually GREW! I really don't think these guys wanted to put their name on some shit, you know?
I'm spoiling myself with a vinyl copy. Holy fuck.
that is so fucking crazy- I did not know it was called sleep paralysis. I had it all the time in high school, and there was always this little gnome in the corner of my room, no shit. I would try and fall back asleep so that it would go away (I was still asleep, of course), but every time I tried, I would clench my fists, and that auditory hallucination would start up, and then this wind would pick up and I would be dragged off my bed by it. I would be clawing at the bed, trying to stay on. At one point, I tried to attack the gnome, and I really don't think it's happened since. I always attributed it to my 80's ecstasy use, these dreams, but maybe there' more to it than that. I just got chills reading your review. How can something as varied (this isn't the word I'm looking for, but it will do) as one's subconscious be subject to formalities like gnomes and shit. freaky.

and, by the way, I don't have any new age beliefs, and I'm not particularly scared of gnomes in a waking state, although I do have a fair amount of disdain for renaissance festivals and the like. I've never been abducted by aliens, though I once had sex with a girl that was half italian/half hispanic, but I'm pretty sure this doesn't count. In other words, I'm not a kook. Do you think Sting is psychic?
A few weeks ago you ragged on bad BOC songs. BOC also had some incredibly bad song titles: "Before a Kiss, a Red Cap", "I'm on the Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep" and "The Siege and Investiture of Billy Barron's Castle of Weisseria". But you know what those song titles are better than the ones on OX and better songs to boot.

Unlike most of the modern metal bands, they do understand an album can't been wall to wall discord. However, the instrumental melodies suck - guys, take a listen to "Laguna Sunrise" to hear how to do it right. And then it immediately goes into scream mode afterwards - a jarring transition that ruins the breaks.

I completely hate that on "Designed to Break a Man" that the singing and guitar riff come in and out at the exact same time. I can pick apart the failings of each song (they are different), but I won't bore you.

It's not completely awful though. The instrumental part of "The Villain We Won't Deny" is pretty good even though the guitar riff late in the song is exactly the same as the intro to "Flash of the Blade" by Iron Maiden. "Dead Is Dead" would be a good song if the "Rocka Rolla" era Judas Priest did it and not Coalesce.

Overall, a pretty bad album - technically precise but lacking any passion (true of most math bands in my book) and the "singer" is so bad, they would be better off being an instrumental act. If you are not already a Coalesce fan, this album isn't going to change your mind. 4/10

You recently told me "be warned - you won't like every album I do!" Truer words were never spoken!
I read about your bout of sleep paralysis in your latest batch of reviews. I can certainly relate. From childhood onward I've suffered intermittent bouts of sleep paralysis that included some fucked up shit that even Stephen King couldn't make up -- everything from being choked by skeleton fingers after hearing a man wearing heavy shoes walk across my hardwood floor to levitations where some unseen entity plucked me out of my bed and tried to shove me through -- not just into but through -- the mirror of my dresser to two old ladies getting on and off a non-existent elevator in the middle of my bedroom -- all of which seemingly happens while I'm wide awake, paralyzed from the neck down and unable to vocalize. While I'm a skeptic about the whole demonic attack, UFO abduction hypotheses, I can totally get how people would come to those conclusions -- it all seems so real.

My bouts of sleep paralysis aren't as frequent or severe as they used to be. I average about 1-2 a year, compared to 1-2 a month when I was a kid. I've found the most effective technique for snapping out of them is to fight and struggle against it -- force yourself to wake up and show that brain who's boss. After a while you can start to sense the oncoming signals; through trial and error I've gotten better at forcing myself awake and minimizing it. I'm also finding the episodes get less severe with age (I'm 43) -- one of the few positive things about getting closer to checking into the departure lounge. Anyhow, best of luck with sleep, job hunting, etc.

Richy Boyer
Unless you're riding a on the back of a lamb 'cause you don't have legs or are just plain fuckin' nuts, a person on the run is "on the lam," not "on the lamb." Just wanted to fill in a couple of the people who've commented here. Y'know, 'cause I thought they should know.

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OXEP - Relapse 2009
Rating = 7

I just got back from rocking my light blue shirt while peeping The Pixies on their Doolittle 20th Anniversary Tour. You're probably snarking, "Yeah, more like Dogshittle, if you ask me!" but whatevs. It was an enjoyable show! They sang and played very well, projected entertaining song-specific movies behind them, and threw in six b-sides and four pre-Doolittle classics to fill out the hour and a half. Best of all, three of the band members are now completely bald -- like me! Remember that book Bald Like Me by Richard Wright? I can't believe Roger Waters fired that guy. Have you heard his shitty Broken China CD? Jesus. I can't believe David Gilmour rehired that guy. I did like his song on Pulse though. I can't believe God killed that guy.

But enough backlapping and slaughter. Today's review is about a new Coalesce disc called more like COXEP, if you ask me! Wait I got ahead of myself there.

There I got ahold of myself waiter.

NNN! (*spills seed on complimentary garlic bread*)

This seven-track, 16-minute EP includes three screaming metalcore blasts, two dark western twangers (one of which turns into metalcore halfway through), and two drum-based snippets. On the good tip, the foreboding "Joyless In Life" and sorrowful "Absent In Death" are among the most subdued and evocative songs this band has yet recorded (they both evoke a grim cowboy on a tragic horse!), and "Through Sparrows I Rest" is a downright groovy piece of heavy, piercing hookery. On the bum jib, the drum briefs are unnecessary and the two other metalcores vacillate unsatisfyingly between challenging math-metal and dull chord bludgeoning.

I still consider Ox one of the absolute greatest CDs of 2009, but OXEP doesn't quite live up to its similar name.

Oh, and don't even get me started on OXIDATION. What, you lose a few electrons and suddenly you're a big shot? Fuck you.

Oh, and don't even get me started on OXYGEN. What, you're essential for the survival of all complex life on this planet and suddenly you're all rooty-tooty? Eat my flaccid fat piece of shit donkey dick cock.

I don't feel like writing.

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