Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mid-Winter Craft Beer Rundown

It's time once more for my semi-monthly beer review rundown. Keep in mind that the ratings system goes from 1-5, with 1 being absolute piss to 5 being ambrosia. Any beer rating around a 3 or so is worth a taste. Give these craft beers a try, and you may be surprised to find a new favorite. Support your local breweries, and drink good beer, not corporate swill! On we go...

Goose Island - Mild Winter (Chicago, IL) - 3.5

This rich rye ale pours with a rush of bubbles and impressive lacing on the glass. I get aromas of fruit and yeast, which certainly isn't bad. The flavor is strong, with hints of dark, candied fruits and, again, yeastiness. Goose Island seldom disappoints, and their Mild Winter is a winner, indeed.

Barley Island - Brass Knuckles Oatmeal Stout (Noblesville, IN) - 4.0

A semi-local brew here, and a righteously fine one it is, too. This deep, impenetrably black stout pours with a nice head and solid lace on the glass. Aroma and taste summon notes of coffee and cocoa. Well-done! It's a smooth, even creamy drink, with a nicely burnt malt finish. Very enjoyable, and a brew perfectly exemplary of the style. Bravo, Barley Island!

Anheiser-Busch - Wild Blue Blueberry Lager (St.Louis, MO) - 1.0

First, if you're looking for an alcoholic grape soda, search no longer. this funky purple-blue brew smells of berries and little else, which isn't bad in itself. I get grape soda with an alcohol bite underneath, but nothing complex at all and certainly not enjoyable. Professing "all natural ingredients" still doesn't convince me, as this tastes really metallic, 'off', and just all wrong. Just no.

Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale (Escondido, CA) - 4.5

This exquisite and limited ale dares to combine Anaheim chilies, cinnamon, and Belgian yeast strains, and it works very well. Aroma and taste are both strong and heavy, with hints of chilies swirled up with some bittersweet cocoa vibes. The cinnamon is somewhat muted. What an interesting collision of flavors here. Quite unusual and very impressive.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Abigail Williams - "Becoming" album

With their third album, veteran American metal act Abigail Williams bring symphonic elements to their otherwise primal black metal attack. "Ascension Sickness" is a masterful work of transcendent darkness. These guys deserve some credit, as their sometimes mournful, often scathing metallic lashings are tempered by some well-developed melodies and strings amongst the blastbeats and demonic howls. The epic 17-minute "Beyond The Veil" closes it all up with swells of lovely strings and an almost post-rock sense of space and dynamism. World class. (Candlelight Records)


Morkobot - "Morbo" CD

Featuring solely 2 bass guitars and drums, this Italian act's raw sonic melee is surprisingly heavy and intricate. With hints of grimy noise, punk, and prog-style math rock, Morkobot's weird tunings and thick, pulsing riffs and rumbling rhythms are both frenetic and tense, reminding me somehow of an instrumental Jesus Lizard meets the Melvins. The standout here has to be "MoR", which breaks things down to a more subtle dubby, jazzy groove. (Supernatural Cat)

Morkobot site

Contrastate - "A Live Coal Under The Ashes" CD

Originally released as a limited vinyl LP/CD package back in 1992, "A Live Coal Under The Ashes" shows this now-defunct UK experimental group at their best. The title track (in 2 parts) melds an ominous drone with low-intoned chants, seeming much like the ritual sounds from some long-lost tribe or a late-night mystical gathering. "The Fingers Of My Foot" is another effective simple tribal/ritual trance piece. "An End Marked By Pessimism" is 9 minutes of cinematic ambience using natural sounds, tribal drums, drones, and gray washes of electronics to great effect. The final two minutes include a declarative bit of spoken poetry atop the percussive drones, reminding me of mid-period Test Department, even. A superlative album for fans of mystical post-industrial ambience. (Tesco Germany)


"Antfarm Dickhole" DVD (director: Bill Zebub)

Like a cross between a Suicide Girls video and death metal, underground micro-budget trash film director Zebub here creates a borderline shocking but firmly tongue-in-cheek film. The premise? Fearsome army ants take up residence inside a poor, picked-on pariah's peehole. The giant plastic ants, and plenty of jiggling boobies are juvenile and silly. But I watched it all. Weird, distasteful, and obviously shot in one take, "Antfarm Dickhole" is an unforgettable Z-grade horror/comedy with an ample sleaze factor. Fun, if nothing else. (Bill Zebub Productions)