Today is the Day

Tomorrow is Saturday. And Sunday comes afterwards. I don't want this weekend to end!
*special introductory paragraph!
*I Bent Scared 7"
*Today is the Day
*Temple of the Morning Star
*In the Eyes of God
*Live Till You Die
*Sadness will Prevail
*Kiss the Pig
*Axis of Eden
*Pain is a Warning

For the first several years of their career, Nashville, TN's Today Is The Day was a brilliant and idiosyncratic noise rock band merging psychotic guitar riffs with over-the-top drumming and screaming vocals of hatred. Then they discovered doom metal and grindcore, and so much for that.

Supernova - Amphetamine Reptile 1993
Rating = 8

Picture a mentally disturbed man, prone to hallucinations and violent outbursts, RAGING THROUGH AN ELABORATE FUTURISTIC TECHNO-LANDSCAPE... and hanging out with Robert Fripp.

Can you hear him? That's Supernova! Be warned though: there's also a band on Amphetamine Reptile named "Supernova"; you be buyin' THEM apples and a sugar robot sassafrass be bankin' a frank on yo ass!

Steven Tyler
Former Lead Singer, Aerosmith
Current Big Dumbass

Supernova drips menace and punishment from every pore. The cover artwork depicts a giant snake's head in a red and white diamond atop what appears to be computer circuitry of some sort. On the back cover is another snake, along with an eyeball, sitting in a mug of malice near a teaspoon of despair. The inside booklet features a discolored photo of a man drinking a beverage near a piece of graffiti reading "SATAN," atop computer numerals reading "76534FUCKIT666TELL LIES689732ANYTHING438^43."

Inside the booklet is a picture of three men, one of whom wears no shirt. This is guitarist/vocalist/bandleader Steve Austin, who spends the entire disc ripping out twisted note patterns, scorched ugly chords and King Crimsony leads while screaming his guts out to create layers of distorted vocals spewing strangely worded thoughts like "Burn me I wanna see your eyes over yeah get down get out of place," "All alone Nossip Adam & Eve They had to pick the apple Picked it from the tree Adam & Eve & Mary" and "You're killin' me You're testin' me and I don't know I don't know I don't They stepped on me when I was down I had to get up just to get down God fearin' bitch supernova school of life." Speaking as an English major, that's uncorrect wordingness thingy.

Next to Mr. Austin is a man with a beard. I believe this is bassist Mike Herrell, but don't go quoting me. More important is the bulbous-chinned guy I assume is the drummer, Brad Elrod. This man plays like Keith Moon, John Bonham and that guy in Absu spliced together in a petri dish. Never content to simply lay down a rhythm, Elrod bashes the absolute hell out of everything with a mixture of wild abandon and technical skill that allows him to run your ass ragged while switching time signatures as often as Tom Cruise switches his gender!

The music itself is an ever-changing cacophony of sick psycho-riffs, Neurosis-style punishment pounding, bendy blues licks, Robert Fripp guitar noodles, sci-fi sound effects, media samples and straight-up heavy metal. Most of the songs feature several different sections, sometimes for the worse; for example, "Black Dahlia," "6 Dementia Satyr" and "The Kick Inside" all tear absolute ass during their first halves before settling down into repetitive jug-jug-jug metal.

If you know what I mean by "jug-jug-jug metal"!!!

(Forcing your wife to get aluminum breast implants)

(including one on her shoulder in case one of the others gets a dent)

This is probably the most sonically aggressive and technically accomplished album that AmRep has ever released. If you love to be pummelled, live to be disturbed, and leave town whenever Robert Fripp has an away gig, get your bottom tooter down to Tape World and buy the Today Is The Day LP by AmRep's pop-punk powerhouse Supernova host-paste!

Reader Comments

Adam Naworal
Absolutely their best album. The weird instrumentals are highlights, as are the lengthy (and somewhat jazzy!) "Goose Is Cooked" and "Self-Portrait", but there's not really a BAD track to be found. Some of the ideas can fall flat, and Mark's spot on about the sections in this regard, but most bands can't manage a debut of this caliber. Remastered version has slightly altered artwork and the "I Bent Scared" tracks.

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I Bent Scared 7" - Amphetamine Reptile 1993
Rating = 5

Compared to the rich StereoSurround assault of Supernova, this single sounds like a wall of hiss erupting from a ham sandwich radio. Yes, these two tracks are almost inexcusably trebly, reverbed and mono-sounding. Also, although the drums kick bums, both the hooky, wiggly "I Bent Scared" and strangled 5/4 "Come On Down And Get Saved" start killer but end filler, deteriorating into slow draggy chords and ugly screaming noise rock respectively. So the question remains: who mixed this shit? It sounds like garbage and shit, packed into a lamp with a genie reeking of B.O. and resting at the bottom of a sea of vomit!

Luckily, none of those things sound bad at all. Use your ears, not your nose asshole.

Not that you have a "nose asshole"; it just seemed too soon to use a second comma.

Reader Comments

Adam Naworal
Yeah, this wasn't their best moment. Still, it's not awful, just awkward and too cluttered for its own good.

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Willpower - Amphetamine Reptile 1994
Rating = 8

There's something you need to know if you're thinking about entering the demesne of Today Is The Day: somewhere, at some point, when you least expect it, Steve Austin is going to yell at you through a distortion pedal.

But he won't just yell at you through that distortion pedal, oh no. Instead, he'll layer and multitrack his vocals so many times that it sounds like about fifty enraged Death Row prisoners screaming at you through a distortion pedal. This is his signature vocal sound, and not all listeners can take it. To those "wimpy" "pussy" "fagit" "Genesis fan" "nancyboy" listeners, I hereby present Willpower, a Today Is The Day album featuring an astronomical amount of actual singing.

Oh sure, he screams at you through a distortion pedal right from the getgo, but before you know it, he's nearly crying as his completely human voice pleads with an unnamed lover in the dying throes of a failed relationship. His moments of rage certainly benefit from a distortion pedal, but the sorrow and desperation of his overall situation demand that he present himself as a naked, flawed human being. Not literally naked, but you know.

Willpower is less technical but more emotional than its predecessor. There's still lots of time-signature tomfoolery, but the songs are more musical and less all-over-the-place. Even the tracks that begin with raging metallic psychotics generally turn to harrowing melodicism and emotional vocals as they progress. Lyrically, Austin traces the contours of dysfunctional male-female relations, flitting through bursts of distrust, betrayal, anger, fear, lust, grief, confusion and loneliness. But no lyric could hope to touch the vicious, hopeless scream that introduces the album: "I'm telling you, I look in your face and I KNOW THAT YOU'RE LYING!!!!"

None of which explains why "Simple Touch" sounds like a corny Dinosaur Jr. ballad.

At only eight songs and 29 minutes, Willpower is technically an EP. But enough negative emotion is packed in to fill 60 Rod Stewart albums, so totes whatevs.

Reader Comments

Adam Naworal
To this day, one of the most disturbing albums I've ever heard; it even challenges early Swans in that respect. The (atypical, as it would turn out) restrained use of vocal effects works in its favor. You feel every bit of pain in Austin's voice. Remastered version has the equally intense bonus track "Execution Style". This and SUPERNOVA are really all you need, but the self-titled third album and TEMPLE OF THE MORNING STAR have their moments.

Mike Noto
That sample that introduces the album is Lorraine Bracco screaming at Ray Liotta in one scene in "Goodfellas." I saw Goodfellas last night for the first time all the way through (I'd seen parts of it for years but never the whole thing), and when it got to that scene I literally heard the song "Will Power" in my head and said out loud, "So that's where he got it from!"

Willpower is almost certainly the best album Steve Austin's ever made, though the first four albums are all undeniably great in their own ways. I can only hope new Today Is The Day music stands up to Willpower. It's his own standard.

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Today is the Day - Amphetamine Reptile 1996
Rating = 8

Oh come on, we've all been there. Your little band is gaining a following around town, attracting broads and such, when suddenly your bassist quits. What a quandary! You've got this heavy band reliant on heavy instrumental tones, and suddenly the fellow who plays your heaviest instrument has up and gone! Well, Steve Austin found himself in just this very position shortly after the Willpower tour wrapped up. Being a common sense man who thinks from the hip, he of course did what any of us would do in the situation: said 'fuck it' and hired a keyboard.

But he didn't stop there! Oh sure, most of us would've rested on our laurels at this point, thinking we'd done our due diligence by replacing the deepest, heaviest instrument in our band with a dipsy-doodle tinkle machine, but not Steve "The Six Million Dollars Man" Austin! No sir, Steve turned to that keyboardist then and there and he says to him he says, "Okay, as a full 33.3% of the musical trio known as Today As The Day, it'd be great if you could not actually play any music." And SH-BING! They didn't come up with an album title.

Today Is The Day is a creepy album. The arrangements are even more accessible than those on Willpower and the guitar is thankfully thick enough to make up for the missing bass, but (a) the keyboardist covers all the guitarwork with weird whooshes, high-pitched signals and eerie decaying noise, and (b) the vocals are a disturbing and unpredictable mixture of melodies, screams, whispers, muttering, wheezing, childlike singing and cultic chanting. Additionally, although each song has been reduced to an easy-to-follow two or three parts, the overall musical Crock Pot is still full to bustin' with a zesty international stew of technical metal, haunting acoustic work, angry blues riffage, carnival music, tricky jazz drumming, morose doom, eerie arpeggios, seasick swoops and strangled ugly noise. In a mindboggling development, the record failed to chart.

According to Steve Austin's facebook page, he is a right-wing patriot who loves guns, hunting, kickboxing and freedom.

And if you don't like that, you can just kiss my ass!

"Uncle Steve" (aka "The Aust")

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Temple of the Morning Star - Relapse 1997
Rating = 8

In the reissue liner notes of this CD, Steve Austin explains that it was created during an extraordinarily difficult period in his life: "After 8 years of being in the most damaged relationship of all time, I was on my own and living in a warehouse in a crack neighborhood with no money, friends or family close by.... When I needed something to eat, I would scramble to find change in the couch or on the ground outside.... My father, who had been traveling most of my adult life, died shortly after in a violent car crash and suicide was on my mind every minute of every day."

So what saved him? "I felt that there was another reason why I am supposed to live through all of this. So, I began writing new music. Writing what was really going on with me. Also, Mark Prindle rules."

What he came up with are the most hopeless, claustrophobic and life-denying lyrics in the TITD discography. And for anyone who's ever been in a similar situation (ME! ME! OOO, ME!), thoughts such as these are awfully familiar:

- "This life no life it's killing me I am slowly dying/I can't be what you want me to be; I am dead"

- "I came out backwards my head's fucked up I need some violence I need real love"

- "I was so dumb to think that you cared I was so dumb I wish you were dead"

- "Why hold back kill yourself take the blade do it clean do it fast"

- "I'm fucking losing my mind get the fuck off of me i know what you're trying to do"

- "It's over get the fuck out i don't need this shit i'm not the problem you're not my friend"

It's easy to view such lyrics with disdain from a position of contentment; they are extremely self-pitying. However, when you're actually in that psychological chamber of pain, helplessness and confusion that results from a significant loss or betrayal, these feelings do not register as whiny cliches. The mental torment is real. When your life falls apart, it's difficult to (a) envision how you could possibly build a new one in its place, and (b) muster up the strength and energy to actually do so. By no means am I comparing my lack of talent to Steve Austin's good deal of talent, but I can vouch for the fact that when one considers one's life and art to be intertwined, one can only work through the pain by using it as inspiration -- even if that means displaying your failings to the world in all their unpleasance and embarrassingness. Hence my six months of reviews that made people hate me and, more relevantly, Today Is The Day's Temple of the Morning Star CD.

Austin put together an entirely new band for the record, but bassist Christopher Reeser and drummer Mike Hyde seem to be just as technically proficient as their forebears. Much of the record would probably be considered a cross between doom- and math-metal, as time signatures go kooky while the tempos gradually slow to a Melvinsy sludge. And prepare to encounter many a screwball chugging bassy metal riff topped with samples, feedback, high-pitched electronic noise and The Screaming Austins. Some of the songs are a bit too ugly or over-the-top in their emotional flailings, but for the most part this is the same sort of sicko riffage you've come to expect from Steve Houston and The Today Show Band.

Oh! One other thing: the sample where the woman says "Ooo, I love being fucked by a tongue" is NSFW.

(The entire song where Steve Austin talks about fucking your wife in the ass should be fine though.)

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In the Eyes of God - Relapse 1999
Rating = 6

And here's where things start to take a turn for the "Say, this blows." Though still a fairly entertaining listen full of great "WTF!?" chord sequences, In the Eyes of God marks the moment that Steve Austin dumped the electronic weirdness and "went metal." Although he still conjures up plenty of his trademark twisted riffs, he presents them in a format easily categorizable as doom metal/grindcore -- complete with black metal speed-picking. In fact, his rhythm section for this record would later form Mastodon, which should give you a hint of what to expect.

However, it's not Austin's jump to the Metal Bandwagon that renders this record weaker than the first four. The real problem is his decision to include a full twenty songs, which results in a solid first half of warped doom/grind riffage giving way to a repetitive and disappointing back end composed of half-assed song sketches that go nowhere. Furthermore, due to (a) a static production technique, (b) the drummer hitting something virtually every second of the disc, (c) the bassist almost always just doubling Austin, and (d) an average song length of two minutes, In The Eyes of God grows wearyingly predictable over the course of its 50 minutes. Too many of the songs simply sound the same. On the bright side, they still don't sound much like anybody else!

At its best, In The Eyes of God applies Steve Austin's psychotic songwriting style to the established "heavy metal" template for a weird, twisted blend of the two. But at its worst, it sounds like a heavy metal guy playing basic chord changes over a drummer's solo tape.

And now for some cheery lyrics!

"All of the people are dying
No one's getting better
Your life is a lie"

"Nowhere to live
No one to love
My empty hand hurts
It's cracked
My face is raw
Victim cut out my eyes
Don't be so desperate
It shows in your smile

"Here lies the guy with the really big mouth
Too bad I had to shut it
I hated to have to stomp that motherfucker
But he had it comin', you got it comin'"

"I was born to be dead
You try and stop me
I'm gonna crush your skull"

"We'll rule this world
With my big cock
Oh God I love you
I live to rock"

"This is reality
Niggers, Jews, Faggots, Whores
Murder mama hate"

"Suck my big huge cock"

And now for some comedy jokes!

Why did Steve Austin cross the road?
To yell at a chicken through a distortion pedal

What did the traveling salesman yell when the prostitute bit a hole in his scrotum?
"That TERRible wHORe gave me a HORrible TEAR!"

How many Steve Austins does it take to screw in a light bulb?
One. Unless it's former wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, in which case two.

What's the difference between a redneck who stole Gene Simmons' undershirt and a member of Today Is The Day?
One's happy as a pig in shit with his piece of KISS; the other's happy with the piece of shit Kiss The Pig.

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Live Till You Die - Relapse 2000
Rating = 7

Howdy folks, this here's your old buddy P. Sporritch Ott to tell you a

'Sup buddies? My name is P. Sporritch Khold and t

Hay prix, I'm P. Sporritch Inthapott and this album is NINE DAYS OLD!

Urgh A. Musicwar

Now that we've all laughed uncontrollably at the hilarious deeds and misgivings of our own modern-day Goofus & Gallant, let's get to the topic at hand, Today Is The Day's Henry The Dog.

Henry The Dog is an adorable little fuzzy man who likes to eat pig ears and chew the eyes out of stuffed animals. He features live performances, acoustic versions and/or radio sessions of six Temple of the Morning Star songs, three In the Eyes of God ditties, and one Today is the Day composition, along with three cover tunes and one new original. He differentiates himself from the rest of the Today is the Day catalog by featuring moments of humor and light, as well as the ability to respond to such commands as "sit," "shake" and "make it squeak." Such wit-flavored passages include covers of Bad Company's "Feel Like Makin' Love" and The Beatles' "Why Don't We Do It In The Road," as well as ridiculous acoustic versions of "Blindspot" and "Temple of the Morning Star" buried under over-the-top growling as hilarious as any Anal Cunt recording.

The more straightforward live material mostly kicks ass too, although the sound quality can get a bit rough -- particularly in the case of "Crutch," which sounds like it was recorded on a crumpled-up piece of paper. The cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" is also negligible, much like REM's cover of same. Still, it's pretty exciting to hear the band performing this crazy material live; you even get to hear Steve Austin scream at you one at a time without a distortion pedal! I apologize for abandoning the Henry the Dog motif, but it didn't seem to be going anywhere.

As for the new song "TDA," I honestly can't remember how it goes and the CD is a cruelly inaccessible two feet away from my outstretched arm. However, my in-depth listening notes describe the track as "ringing guitar loop (I guess?) over bass line - or something? Sounds good! Crystal clear... Cool!," and if there exists in this world a more ringing endorsement of any piece of art, then someone's giving that guy a handy.

You know what else would be handy? A listing of my most recent Facebook status updates!

Mark Prindle just learned that there is a Bloomberg reporter named Rita Nazareth. Now she's messing with a son of a bitch.

Mark Prindle is disturbed by the ad on his Facebook page for a reunion show by "All 4 original members of ASIA." Shouldn't Steve Howe be in the studio working on the upcoming "Yes Without Jon Anderson" album?

Today's April 2nd. HA HA! APRIL FOOLS!!!!

Mark Prindle has been scrubbing this carpet for half an hour. How was I to know my co-workers wouldn't enjoy my "April Stools" joke?

Mark Prindle went to see an allergist this morning. My allergies appear to be exacerbated by (a) going outside, and (b) going back inside.

Mark Prindle, his girlfriend, and Mr. Jim Laakso now have tickets to see Boston's The Cars live at Roseland Ballroom on May 25th. Yay! With any luck, they'll play the Door to Door LP in its entirety! Remember its hit "You Are The Girl"? It wasn't very good at all!

Mark Prindle is greatly looking forward to tomorrow night's Dead Milkmen concert. I'll be very disappointed if they look even slightly different than the last time I saw them, 18 years ago.

Mark Prindle enjoyed the wingding out of tonight's Dead Milkmen concert. They covered Gary Numan's "Cars" and Sonic Youth's "Death Valley '69"! It's incredible how great a song the latter is when Lydia Lunch isn't around to ruin it.

Mark Prindle just purchased a teeny tiny iPod shuffle. It's adorable! I can wear it on my tooth!

Mark Prindle watched "Saw: The Final Chapter" today. I can't tell whether it was written for idiots, or written by normal people FOR idiots. Either way, idiots were involved.

Mark Prindle tonight watched the horror movie "Splinter." I was just expecting a scary movie about a guy with a splinter, but what I got was much, much more!

Mark Prindle has given up the drink. Don't offer him the drink because the answer's just gonna be 'no.' Time's a-changin' and so is Mark Prindle. He's still unemployed though. Perhaps the world's employers thought he said "I've given up the job." But that's not what he said at all. He said "the drink."

Can you guys keep it down? I'm trying to listen to the new Nazareth album "Big Dogz." In particular, its first track "Big Dog's Gonna Howl."

Actually, can you guys bring it back up? This album is terrible.

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Sadness Will Prevail - Relapse 2002
Rating = 4

You ever been down to the Betamax Tape Rental Store to pick up a heartfelt drama, only to stick it in your Betamax Machine and see Gary Busey wiggling his dick at your wife for half an hour? Well, this CD is much the same experience. With a title like Sadness Will Prevail and cover artwork depicting an insane woman crouched in the corner of a large empty room, you'd expect it to be a Neurosis/Swans-style nightmare of soul-crushing depression culminating with your own death by suicide. But instead, it's just a bunch of harmless doom metal and avant-garde fluffernuttery. Do you think maybe it was supposed to be called Badness Will Prevail but Steve wrote his "B" all flowery and Relapse thought it was an 'S'? I know something similar happened with The Beatles' Assey Road.

This album marks the point where Steve Austin either intentionally or unknowingly allowed Today Is The Day to devolve into an amateurish mess of tedious, underwritten and poorly-recorded experimental metal -- a description that fits the band to this very day. The mix is bizarrely super-trebly, Steve has replaced his trademark distorted scream with a mixture of Cookie Monster growling and hysterical woman screeching, and the songs careen back and forth between lurching stop-start doom metal, sophomoric art-prog and avant-garde dicking around. The metal riffs, though not uniformly awful, are all repeated 400 thousand times in an attempt to create a hypnotic mood that never, ever comes; the prog songs are destroyed by a one-fingered pianist and a violinist who can't even tune his instrument, let alone play it; and one ultimately gets the feeling that the band spent a lot more time finding cool samples and fucking around with their recording equipment than writing actual songs. There is definitely a lot of *interesting* material here, but hardly any of it qualifies as good music!


Do you realize how many times I could've cured cancer in the time it took to listen to this album? How many JFK assassinations I could've solved? How many Bigfoots I could've brought to justice? But no, instead I sat here listening to Steve Austin go "doo-dee-dee" 400 times in a row while screaming at me in the voice of Polly "Flo" Holliday of TV's Alice fame.

Fans of Japanese noise will probably enjoy this challenging work more than those of us with correctly functioning ears, but here are a few things to listen for:

- "Distortion of Nature" - Am I nuts or is the first 2:45 of this track simply a muffled, pitch-modulated playback of somebody else's record!?

- "Butterflies" - That's Anal Cunt's Seth Putnam!!! My buddy!!!

- "Christianized Magick" - That's Paradise Lost's John Mark Byers!!! My buddy!!!

- "The Ivory of Self Hate" - Am I cuckoo or could this be a Flaming Lips song? It sounds like it could've been on Zaireeka! (but with only one stereo)

- "Made of Flesh" - That's American Movie's Mark Borchardt!!! My buddy!!!

- "Breadwinner" - This 1:20 masterpiece is by far my favorite song on the record. Listen to the lyrics -- he's just shouting the names of addictive drugs! Culminating with his final exhortation "HEART ATTACK!"

- "Never Answer the Phone" - That's Memento's Leonard Shelby!!! My buddy!!! And later, that's several characters in Rosemary's Baby!!! My buddy!!!

Honestly, if they'd just cut all the tracks to half their length and released this as a single CD, it wouldn't be that bad. But every single song wears out its welcome through useless, self-defeating repetition.

Still, I have to admit a sort of morbid fascination with this monsterwork. Though I'll probably sell my copies of Kiss the Pig and Axis of Eden because they're simply bad metal albums, I think I'll keep this one. It's horrifically overlong and badly flawed in places (particularly the piano/strings numbers, wherein any potential emotional effect is crushed by the 'high school band' performances), but there are a lot of strange ideas to be found here, and I think I may want to experience the whole torrid trainwreck again some day.

Maybe after I've gone senile, so it'll all sound like normal music.

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Kiss the Pig - Relapse 2004
Rating = 1

Pardon me while I wipe the shit off my brain.

See that? This album has driven me to do something I swore I would never do: curse in a record review. But I can't help it; it's that fuckbuttingly bad. It is exactly what old people and ministers think heavy metal is: a bunch of tuneless pounding and screaming. Filled with gunshots, blastbeats, two-chord riffs and Steve Austin shrieking like a menopausal woman, Kiss the Pig is a gigantic fistfucking ball of anger, hate and nothing else.

Austin has made no secret of his hatred for Relapse Records. They stabbed him in the back, held his music hostage and refused to pay him what they owed. As such, there is little doubt in my mind that this CD was his way of saying "FUCK YOU" and getting out of his contract. It shows absolutely none of the usual care he puts into his work, instead thrusting one intense simplistic ragefest after another into your ears -- essentially the same thing Metallica did with St. Anger but with even less melody. But if you're in the mood for a 35-minute temper tantrum devoid of tunefulness and creativity, come on down!

Even the lyrics are embarrassing:

- "I hate people I hate travel I hate you I fuck you"
- "This is how I load my gun .308 makes lots of fun"
- "Rape my country again over and over and over again No I got a hand I can use if you could be the one runnin' from my gun"
- "Goddamn your a fuckin' imbecile so dumb you can't get it right 'I don't know' oughtta be your middle name get it right I hate you!"
- "And now I play my violins to sooth the open sore It sounds so pure and clear I think I'm gonna cum"

If I were a bigtime Hollywood producer, I'd cast Mike Myers in a film about this album called Austin's Powers: Gone Baby, Yeah!

Then as a publicity stunt, I'd tie him up in a bag of alligators.

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Axis of Eden - Supernova 2007
Rating = 4

With their third lousy album in a row, it might be about time to change the name to Yesterday Was The Day. What is this nonsense? Supernova is Steve Austin's own label. He could've done ANYTHING HE WANTED on this record. So why is he still throwing tuneless grindcore tantrums about Relapse? Why do all the vocals sound like half-asleep guide tracks recorded through a condenser mic? Why does the drummer arbitrarily switch back and forth between normal rock beats, double bass kick-drums and full blastbeats as if he's not even listening to the music? Why does "If You Want Peace Prepare For War" sound like an uncredited cover of "Within You Without You"? And most importantly, am I nuts or is "Desolation" an electronic dance song!?

Like its vomitous predecessor, Axis of Eden is for the most part an ugly screaming album of poorly recorded doom/grind metal. On the tender side however, it at least has a few melodies on it. "Free At Last" is a particularly strong track, a heartbreaking piece of piano-enhanced dirge metal apparently written about Steve's mother suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. "The Worst Thing That Ever Happened To Me" is another winner, surprisingly played almost entirely on the bass. In another near-first, Steve contributes actual non-distorted *singing* to a few tracks, though he doesn't sound very confident about it.

The worst tracks ("IED," "My Wish is Your Command," "Total Resistance") might as well be Kiss The Pig outtakes, as grim as that sounds. Most of the others contain at least one highly enjoyable aspect, be it melodic (e.g. the hard post-punk riff of "No Lung Baby" and mood-shifting arpeggio of "Axis of Eden") or rhythmic (ex. Steve's laidback rap-style delivery in "Circus Maximus," the hypnotic mechanical chug of "Broken Promises and Dead Dreams"). Unfortunately, since most of the songs were apparently constructed by randomly combining song segments that have nothing to do with each other and sound like shit together, almost all the likeable material is quickly replaced by banal metal riffs and misplaced blastbeat idiocy.

When I listen to this album, I seriously wonder how even Steve Austin himself could enjoy more than 40% of it. Most of the riffs are simplistic, hookless, and repeated six hundred thousand times. Also, this is the dullest drumming you'll hear on any TITD record. The band is renowned (by me) for their incredible string of "Mitch Mitchell meets Mac McNeilly" drum phenoms, but either this guy can't play like that or Steve specifically told him not to. Either way, it's as disappointing as a box of Cracker Jacks where the prize is a nose hair.

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Pain is a Warning - Black Market Activities 2011
Rating = 8

"Steve Austin, songwriter. A talent barely alive," said Converge's Kurt Ballou to Wet Nurse's Ryan Jones and Curran Reynolds. "Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first decent Today is the Day album in over a decade. Pain is a Warning will be that album. Better than Steve was before. Better...stronger...less grindcorey."

Then they spent 6 million dollars recording the album, which I realize seems a bit high for an indie release, but wait til you hear the results! With Pain is a Warning, Steve finally drags his curmudgeonly ass out of the lo-fi grindcore gutter and gives us a proper follow-up to Temple of the Morning Star. The guitars are so loud it's ridiculous, the riffs are a metallic mix of twisted note runs and bombastic roaring chords, and Steve's vocals are his strongest in ages -- rather than shrieking like a woman, he alternates between his original white noise scream and a depressed yet tuneful singing approach.

Furthermore, the mix (by aforementioned Converge's Kurt Ballou) is awesome. The angry tension of "Expectations Exceed Reality" and "Death Curse" smashes your face until your nose is concave; the anthemic release of "Pain is a Warning," "The Devil's Blood" and "Samurai" floods your endorphins until they drown; and the quiet sorrow of "Remember to Forget" and "This Is You" literally reaches into your eyes to squeeze the tears out. Then there are two other songs, but you'll be too dead to hear them. But that's the nature of Today is the Day. They record albums that kill you.

It's not a perfect record, please understand. "Wheelin'" would probably have benefitted from a second part -- or, at very least, a fourth chord; "Slave to Serenity" squanders an epic Dio-style dragons & rainbows riff by pairing it with a dopey up'n'down lazyboat that belongs on one of TDID's lesser records; and "Expectations Exceed Reality" probably qualifies more as 'incredibly angry anger' than 'tuneful songsmithery.' But none of the songs are bad, and most of them are positively mind-squishing!

So thank you, Mr. Austin. And thank you, Mr. Ballou. And thank you two too, Messrs. Jones and Reynolds (Steve's current rhythm section). You've completely restored my confidence in the Today is the Day empire!

On another note, people are constantly stopping me on the boardwalk and asking, "Mark, what name should I use as I pursue a career in pornography?" Well, you're just the right time to come with me at question! Here are just a few pseudo-monikers you might consider adopting as you venture forth into the greatest challenge of your life (humiliating your parents for drug money):

4 tha pimp daddies:
- Jm J. Buttock
- Dick Humiliating
- Senor Belly Button
- Rock Hardballs
- Poop Johnson, The Man With The Brown Smelly Penis

4 tha hos:
- Smartlady McGenius
- Abraham Lincunt
- Jenna Brzezinski-Mahershalalhashbaz
- Pussy Galore (In Terms Of Circumference)
- XXXusan Boyle

Reader Comments


I wonder if it annoys you when you receive correspondence in which the writer has attempted to mimic your hilarious style of scatological ramblings and incisive criticism (or failing that, offer "opinions," eughh). It's like they're trying to smear their balls all over your keyboard and hoping some of the dry, flaky crust (thinkin' about pie) of semen (thinkin' about vagina) will help them to come up with a joke about masturbating that's not totally unoriginal and annoying (thinkin' about most female musicians until around the 1980s [naked {them, not me. well i guess it could be me too. hey how'd i get three parenthetical levels down?}]).

I forgot my point. Oh yeah! The new Today is the Day record totally rocks! Have you heard it? I would say that my own unique perspective that I came up with myself just now is that with Pain is a Warning, Steve finally drags his curmudgeonly ass out of the lo-fi grindcore gutter and gives us a proper follow-up to Temple of the Morning Star, but then I'd be outing myself as a big ol' sap, because this album is better than Temple of the Morning Star—so much so, in fact, that it no longer deserves to be written in bold-face type. As an aside, the phrase "bold-face type" sounds like an oblique reference to some ugly guy's face if you move the hyphen to the right five spaces, delete the trailing space, and then go back and add a space between the d and the f. And really, shouldn't there always be a little space between the d and the f?

So anyway, as much as I like temple of the morning star, I think it suffers from too many ideas thrown at each other all at once, the result being a record that one minute feels as exciting as having a boner ("The Man Who Loves To Hurt Himself," "Mankind," "Root of All Evil") and then the next minute feels as flaccid and disappointing as an old person's ass ("Pinnacle," ironically, because it's a really juvenile song, a-heh-heh). It's a REALLY good record, but it feels unfinished. I suddenly realized I am bored of writing this boring email so I'm going to wrap it up quickly:

In contrast, this new record is better and I like it more, the end.

Add your thoughts?

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