Monday, March 19, 2012

Intense Degree - War In My Head (Earache, 1988)

Although I generally don't like Florida (ask JGoon his thoughts on Miami), I've had some good memories of visiting the St. Petersburg/Tampa area for the past 25 or so winter holidays. But these days, most of the things I liked about the area are gone. The local arcade closed down, the flea market doesn't sell the Winger anymore, Evos went from all vegetarian burgers to "humanely raised beef" (sellouts!), it's hard to find other 37 year olds to skate with...

There were a few great record stores there too, but of the ones I frequented, only Disc Exchange in St. Pete remains. And I've long since depleted their stock of rare punk and hardcore records. I used to always take a day trip to Tampa that involved the SPOT (Tampa skatepark), Evo's and a bunch of record stores. Vinyl Fever, a long running alternative/indie record store was the latest to close. My favorites though were Sound Idea and Ace's Records.

Sound Idea was a great punk store that many people were probably familiar with from their MRR mailorder ads, the owner's label, Burrito Records, or his bands, Failure Face and Murder Suicide Pact. They always had a great selection and they had shows in the back room sometimes. I was supposed to see Municipal Waste there one time, but they didn't show up because apparently one of the band members had burned himself doing flaming shots the night before.

But the real gem for me was Ace's Records in Tampa. Tampa was the home to death metal in the 90's and Ace's was renowned as one of the best metal stores in the country, if not the world. A lot of metal musicians worked there too. Although I've never really been a fan of death metal, Ace's carried enough thrash, rare imports and hardcore to keep me browsing for hours. They had a vinyl section in the back where they had an insane surplus of cheap, sealed thrash, crossover, hardcore and punk records that I would spend most of my Christmas money on.

Which brings me to Intense Degree. (Finally, eh?) This is one of those records I picked up just based on the look of it. From the sticker description, a song called "Skate Bored" and a singer who looked a little like Tommy Stupid (The Stupids being another fave band I discovered from Disc Exchange), I figured I'd like them. With ultrafast drumming and grindcore-like speeds, they resembled early DRI or Siege musically, but the vocals were a little more melodic, similar to The Stupids, which made me like them even more. Plus the recording was super clean for this style of hardcore. If you like any of their fellow countrymen like Heresy, Ripcord or Concrete Sox, this album fits in nicely. I've picked up their other records over the years and if I remember correctly, they're not quite as fast or as good as this debut, but I should revisit them.

Too bad I can't revisit Ace's anymore.

This is the CD version with bonus tracks from the North Atlantic Noise Attack compilation.



  2. thanxxx crossover is back

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