Joe Black (Pavement)
by Scott Hefflon
Fucking ouch! What I’d initially thought was one of those tide-me-over EPs turns out to be one of the most black-hearted batteries of brutality to assault these ears in some time. Releasing three songs that never made your last album, remixing three songs that did make it onto your last album, offering some historical perspective by tacking on some demo versions of songs off your old albums, and, finally, covering Slayer’s “Reign In Blood” I mean, doesn’t that sound like a frantic “Oh shit, the contract says we have to release an album soon and we don’t have any new songs!” sort of situation? Good Lord, so what? Joe Black kicks some death metal butt!! Sure, the ’90s demo cuts at the end sound like a young band trying to play as fast and sloppy as early Slayer, but this demo got ’em signed. As a chunk of history properly dated and catalogued, it shows Malevolent Creation don’t suck nearly as much as they used to. Slayer released “Reign In Blood” in 1986; why Malevolent Creation decided to record a reasonably competent version eight years later is beyond me. The original stands up to the over-produced metal wars of today (a decade later), while this cover humbly points out the fact that even good bands may have once called a cardboard box a “studio” and various sizes of Tupperware “drums.” But anyway…
The first three tracks are crushing. Continuing the hyperspeed chaos of 1995’s Eternal, these songs also add the much-needed contrast of some chopping, half-time knockout punches. The speedbag pace often blends into a big aural blur, almost soothing, but I doubt that’s the intended effect. With the dramatic tempo changes and roaring production available today, Joe Black is on par with Pantera and Sepultura powerwise. Difference is, these guys are fuckin’ mean, violent, and more pissed than ever.
The remix tracks are that death-gone-techno rave thing that must be profitable or something. Oops, I mean, popular. Sounds like Fear Factory, though not nearly as well executed. To be fair, that remixing stuff is really tricky – especially if the songs don’t lend themselves easily. Then don’t do it, huh? While it’s choppy as shit, perhaps that’s just some techno aesthetic I don’t get. The “To Kill” and “Tasteful Agony” (from Eternal) remixes are interesting, and occasionally funny, but the blasting slam power of the originals doesn’t translate into skippy, shake-your-very-white-butt dance music. “To Kill” is the best – steady thump-thump-thump mixed with industrial metal crashes and clanks, a death growl puntuated by a “Fucking Hostile” distorto roar, and chugging guitars galore.
Yeah, this’ll tide-me-over.