Greetings and welcome back to Record Swap. Today we again pit arch nemeses Joe “Nerd Crusher” Thrashnkill against Randall “Dragon Buster” Thor against each other. The gloves are off, and this time it’s personal. Will the dragons or the muscles emerge victorious? The rules are simple. No research. No foreknowledge. No mercy. — W.
Joe’s Assignment: Dragon Guardian – Cyushingurakitoden (2014)
We agreed no holds barred. I knew what must be done. Even the riffiest and most Thin Lizzy-esque of heavy/power metal bands, Slough Feg, wearied Joe’s poser ears. I knew that punishment was the only answer, and I began my quest to explore my knowledge of the weebiest of the weeb metal: Japanese power metal. Now, it would be easy to just simply go for Galneryus, X Japan, or Jupiter, but I knew that simply wouldn’t be enough. He’d simply listen, appreciate the talent and melodies, say he doesn’t like it, make a few jokes about anime nerds and slamming them into lockers, and move on. While still honoring the “pick an album that you enjoy” rule, I went deeper. I remembered finding a band a couple years back called Dragon Guardian and was instantly sold when I heard their album “Distiny of the Sacred Kingdom.” That’s not a typo; that’s how deep we’re going right now. I’ll admit I have not explored Dragon Guardian’s full discography, so I cannot expand upon the evolution of the band, but at some point they went from standard J-power to straight up anime metal. Now, you may be asking “aren’t those the same thing?” I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that, but I’m assuming most of you have not experienced anything on this level of pure weebiness. The worst of the Italian symphonic bands don’t even come close to this level of cheese. I chose this album for three reasons. First, the album cover is the most weeaboo album cover I’ve ever encountered. Second, the band includes horrible Japanese voice acting in the vein of your favorite bad anime. THERE ARE FIGHT SCENES WHERE THEY YELL AND SWORDS CLASH. There are multiple characters having conversations over the background music, ranging from ultra serious overacting to silly moments that I assume people would find entertaining or fun if they understood the language? Third, the guitarwork on this album is still a lot of fun, albeit dramatically reduced in presence since Distiny (I’ll never grow tired of typing that.) If you think you have an iron stomach for cheesy metal, I challenge you to sit through this whole album. I’m still stunned that Joe made it through this entire album without committing seppuku. —Randall Thor
Mother FUCKER. Why, God, WHY? After I flushed Traveller I knew that my next meeting with Randall would be a slobberknocker, but I never expected it to be this awful. This abomination begins with cartoon women jibber jabbering away about something or other. I’d love to tell you what they’re talking about but I don’t FUCKING SPEAK JAPANESE (and neither does Randall!) Record Swap rules prevent me from getting any additional information about this band beyond the music and the cover art, but judging from the pre-pubescent appearance of the anime creatures on the cover of this record, it’s dialog would get you disgusting weebs arrested in all 50 states.
Story time kids: Do you want to know why I hate anime? Internet culture makes it easy to understand now, but I’m just old enough to have a few awful experiences without the Internet as a guide. When I was 12, I picked up a VHS tape of Akira from a flea market and was blown away. So much so, that I made my old-school cowboy stepfather drive me to Dallas to go to an anime convention shortly thereafter. Under his patient and judging gaze I watched adults cosplay as Nipponese children and sneak away to the hentai viewing theaters. Aside from getting to play a demo of Final Fantasy 8 and purchasing a robot model kit, it was a pretty horrific experience.
The first real song on Cyushingurakitoden, “Itsunohinika,” begins with the same riff used in every power metal song ever made, except with some traditional Japanese instrumentation in the background. A woman sings in Japanese. It sounds like the theme song to a cartoon about a magic witch with a cursed vagina. It is at this moment I realize that power metal and anime music are separated only by language and I somehow loathe both things just a little bit more.
The next track has the decency to use a minor key. There’s even a hint of harsh vocals in the background of the chorus. The rest of it is completely unremarkable. “Eien no ningun” begins with a gnarly pickscrape into a riff that would ALMOST lead you to believe that you were listening to a metal record, rather than a soundtrack for grown men who beat off to cartoon characters. “Utage” is another LONG conversation between enchanted anime girls and some fucking creep dude anime character. I have no idea what they discuss because, again, I don’t fucking speak Japanese. “Kessen Uchiri” is nine and a half minutes long because OF COURSE IT IS. The record mercifully winds down with “Kanzashi”, which if I close my eyes and pretend really hard, could be a boss theme in a decent PSX JRPG that I’ve long since forgotten.
Imagine the shame in your grandparent’s eyes if you told them that you, a grown man, spent your free time listening to the soundtracks to hyper-sexualized cartoons meant for Japanese children. If he had to do it all over again, would your grandfather watch his buddies die face-down in the trenches of WWII, just for you to argue about your waifus with other socially inept adults on the Internet? I’d rather have someone walk in on me watching porn than listening to this album. Consider this album flushed with extreme prejudice. — Joe
Randall’s Assignment: Racetraitor – Burn the Idol of the White Messiah (1998)
If you’re a fan of Pantera, brutal breakdowns, and kids with their hearts in the right place (regardless of how seriously misguided they may be), you might just dig Racetraitor. I know for a fact that Randall Thorr is a fan of precisely none of those things, so this will be fun. Let’s just get this out of the way: “Racetraitor” is a derogatory term used by racist morons to describe a white person that is somehow a “traitor” to their race by dating a non-white person. Racetraitor, the band, was a late-90s metallic hardcore unit with some mega leftist ideological views. If you think my political diatribes are annoying, holy hell, you are not prepared for this. Occasionally sharing members with the notorious Vegan Reich, Racetraitor was a hardline vegan straightedge unit that would derisively call their audience “crackers”. For those unfamiliar, “hardline” is lifestyle that seems to appeal far more to backwards religious extremists than it does vaguely leftist kids that don’t want to do drugs. This band’s views were so progressive that they were somehow completely fucking backwards. Keeping this in mind, it somehow makes sense that their sole LP, Burn the Idol of the White Messiah, has just as many pinch harmonics as your favorite Cowboys from Hell. FUN FACT: Andy Hurley and (occasionally) Pete Wentz of Fallout Boy were in Racetraitor, which made it really strange to see them on Ryan fuckin’ Seacrest’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve this year. Good luck with the whole establishing anarcho-primitivism thing, guys. And thanks for “Hope Kills Fear“. I have CRUSHED some deadlifts to that song, bro. — Joe
When I saw the band name and album title, I had to have Joe assure me this wasn’t some kind of racist or Nazi band. So that’s a good start! Although I do prefer to let the music speak for itself, especially in extreme metal, it is always comforting to know that the band is just screaming about murdering people for fun or Satan, and not for the color of their skin or nationality. I also knew Joe was going to show absolutely no mercy in his selection, so I steeled myself for an onslaught of breakdowns and mosh riffs. I didn’t get quite what I expected.
Racetraitor are certainly intense. They can riff with the hardest of slam bands, and the vocals are the definition of raw fury. It sounds like a competent mix of Neurosis‘s Pain of Mind with your average slam band. There’s nothing I hate about this album, and at times I found myself nodding in enjoyment to a riff or breakdown. The album starts off with dominating force in the tracks “Curse” and “Dar-al Harb,” and finds that energy again in “Broken Dust.” The main issue is that, outside of the interludes, nothing in this album stands out to me. Perhaps if I had more time to actively listen and explore this album, I may have liked it more. As of writing, I can’t find anything here to grasp onto. The muddy production, which I’ve experienced in the few slam bands I do enjoy, seems to hurt this album more than help it. The guitars never disappoint, but never impress. The drums are very standard, nothing outstanding. I can’t hear the bass, but I don’t expect to in this genre.
This album makes me question my knowledge and appreciation of slam/hardcore. Am I the one missing something? Is this a great album that I just am not educated enough in the ways of smashing bricks into my face to enjoy? Do I need to lift more to get into this? Maybe slam a nerd into a locker? I’m really not sure. I even listened to Devourment’s Molesting the Decapitated today to double check and, yes, I still love that album, so it’s not just the genre. Is Joe such an enthusiast that this is enjoyable to him, but not to a casual like myself? I submit myself to the possibility of being a poser, and admit that this album is simply ‘good’ to my ears. — Randall
There were no survivors.
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