Thursday, September 11, 2008

Retroview: Confessor - Condemned


"You've never heard anything like this!" is, for the most part, an overused and meaningless phrase, that is unless you happen to be talking about Confessor. Their debut album, Condemned, is one of the most uniquely bizarre metal records I've ever heard. A brilliant mix of seemingly incongruous elements Confessor's deranged sound is truly unforgettable. Imagine a vocalist that sounds like a woman screaming for her life, doom riffs so heavy and crunchy they'd make Candlemass green with envy, and serpentine drumming so complex and off-kilter it'd make Tomas Haake's head spin. Released back in 1991 on Earache Records, it's easy to see how Condemned flew over everyone's heads and was relegated to obscurity while poseurs everywhere were busy listening to Necroticism and Blessed Are the Sick. Musically, these guys did not fit in at all with the death metal scene that was just coming to prominence. They were operating on a completely different level, orbiting somewhere in outer space. This record was so ahead of its time I still don't think we've caught up.

And how about the brutal cover art? Beautifully rendered in colored pencil against a stark background, a presumably nude male writhes bound, gagged, and blind-folded as he's shot in the back of the head. It's a masterpiece.

Confessor broke while trying to record the follow-up to Condemned around 1993, but reformed in 2002 to play a benefit for their recently deceased guitarist Ivan Colon (R.I.P.). They finally released their sophomore album, Unraveled, in 2005. It sounds like Alice in Chains and highly recommend everyone check it out. Now for some killer videos...




This first video is one of the most awesome things I've ever seen. It features a young Confessor performing at a water park that no longer exists called Fame City in Houston, Texas back in 1988. The quality is incredible. When the camera pulls back to reveal that they're playing on a gigantic poolside stage with people sunbathing just a few feet away... fucking surreal. I'm a big fan of singer Scott Jeffreys' neon green short shorts.




This is the music video for the song "Condemned." Pretty standard concert footage with some stupid artsy effects, but this song rules and you get more of Scott Jeffereys' wild head banging and plenty of shots of Steve Shelton murdering his drums.




Last, but certainly not least is a special bonus video for all your drum nerds out there (I'm looking at you, Lucho Metales). In this video Steve Shelton takes your ass to school. He shows you how to play the intro to Condemned and talks about how much he loves choppy, awkward rhythms. Watch in awe as he puts 99.9% of all metal drummers to shame.

30 comments:

  1. Awesome work guys! Confessor is one of the best least known doom bands. Very solid stuff on Condemned. It's impossible to find now but it's worth it. I applaud you for bringing them to everyone's attention. Again well done!

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  2. One of the most idiosyncratic and hence best HM bands ever. I actually prefer the second album to the first but both are a few levels above 99.9% of the rest of the 'metal' that has monopolized commercial interest since the genre's inception.

    The remaster of Condemned is worth listening too, not exactly for the right reasons, though.

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  3. Yeah, Nice post. I love that Condemned video. It reminds me of the times with no internet. I recorded that video in 1992 from the Power 30 (from MuchMusic, something like MTV) and used to watch that video all the time. Nowadays you'd go and download the album, listen to it a couple of times and switch to another album, one of the other hundreds you downloaded in the last 24 hours, but those times were that was not possible, you were happy just watching a video hundreds of times, waiting to find the album in a record store...
    Anyway, Scott Jeffreys' vocals are weird, but awesome, and Steve Shelton is amazing. That last video is incredible. Thanks for posting it.
    About the first video, I still can't believe it. It seems Scott actually went there to play on the water park, with his green short shorts (which you can't deny they are from the '80s: the color and that fabric that dries very fast...oh, my short shorts are magic!). Can't you imagine to go to a stupid water park and be so lucky? Anyway, I think all those rednecks that are shown on the video couldn't care less. The only cool water park and they went out of business.

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  4. Great post. Confessor is a great band that isn't credited enough for taking the technical realm of metal up a few notches.

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  5. I like how he says "notes" as newh-tes. "tempo" is tem-po-ooh.
    I have to get that guy's DVD

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  6. Best drummer in metal, and THE most fucked up riffs/patterns EVER on this album. Some of the shit sounds kinda simple but you listen closely to it and you still can't even count your way through to follow what the fuck they're doing. Utterly classic album on every level.

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  7. I love how somehow Confessor are the band everybody here can agree to being awesome. I wish Forced Entry were also as liked!

    What's really interesting to me is that practically nobody copied Confessor outright as far as I have heard. They've inspired a lot of bands, but there are no clones out there. I don't accept "well nobody could!" answer because right now the broader field of 'extreme music' is full of amazing musicians that can play circles around Confessor. Truly detestable music like 'Between the Buried and Me' has players that could give Confessor guitar lessons. So it can't be that.

    I guess the style is too obtuse, not obvious enough for people looking for quick gratification through their music. This is perhaps important if one considers how a lot of monumental Heavy Metal also has been overtly inspirational but nobody managed - or even tried? - to outright copy it, like

    Mercyful Fate - Melissa
    Fates Warning - Awaken the Guardian
    Psychotic Waltz - A Social Grace
    Voivod - Nothingface

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  8. Confessor sells His 'n' Her's scented Confessor Soaps on their website.
    http://www.confessorband.com/merch.html

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  9. holy AWFUL vocalist. AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL.

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  10. holy shitty guitar tone. why i hate tech metal all summed up in a 10 minute bore a thon..

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  11. Confessor rules. And yer lower than a greasy turd if you disagree.

    I WAS kinda hoping you were gonna make fun of 'em a little more.

    Watch the 'Words of Praise' vid, there are a couple of shots from behind the band that show the pool. Freakiest venue for doom ever. Also you get to see the sunglasses-at-night uber-choad interview the band afterwards.

    Nasty Savage, now there's a band ripe for ridicule...

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  12. Nasty Savage were fucking awesome. Especially towards the end with that Abstract Reality EP.

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  13. I remember thes guy were on the gods of grind comp with carcass and cathedral (and entombed but they kinda suck)

    Speaking of Cathedral, thats weird doom band that has fucked up cover art and is ripe for ridicule

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  14. I bought both this and the EP when they came out, mostly because I was one of those kids that bought everything on it that said "Earache." I always liked some of the riffs and loved the drumming, but even now all these years later the vocals still irk me. For that reason I really prefered the much shorter (and less vocal-heavy) EP. As others have mentioned, and it bears repeating, this had no antecedents and no descendants, making this quite the interesting metal band.

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  15. Slow music and doom in particular are, were, never in fashion.
    When music is so slow, young listeners and their girlfriends start to complain that "there's no groove". Look around, there are only a few websites dedicated to doom...so I think "Condemned" is a cult album because of its genre, not for its release date.
    Even if I have to admit that Assache is a shitty label.

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  16. actually, the dude sounds like a woman crying over dirty dishes. their technicality seems totally off the wall, though. but those vocals made me feel embarrassed.

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  17. Dudes! Scott's vocals are freekin great. Everything about Confessor is UNCOMFORTABLE, and the vocal style fits the lyrical content perfectly. How else could you convey the sense of dire urgency?

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  18. Brilliant technical thrash but I really don't understand why everyone here insists on calling them doom. St. Vitus is doom, Sab was doom, Electric Wizard is doom; Confessor isn't slow, it's akin to Death Row, Voivod, Anacrusis and Cynic. They truly stood out at a time when everyone was trying to sound either like Pantera or like a deranged serial killer in a Norwegian forest.

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  19. Doom is a very large musical genre. There are quite different bands labeled as "doom"...Crowbar is different from Candlemass, Sleep from Disembowelment, Winter from Black Sabbath, My Dying Bride from Earth. I think Confessor can fit in this genre, after all, but surely they sound like no others.

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  20. Alright... I'm gonna be 'that guy' and say that CONFESSOR's demos are way better than the record. I was totally disappointed by "Condemned" when it came out cuz the sound just wasn't as good or heavy as the demos. There's an EP that came out after "Condemned" that has a demo track on it - much better!

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  21. anachrocynik

    Yeah they clearly (especially in that 'Words of Praise' intro!) show they had a technothrash origin (or at least liked Watchtower in specific lots: I don't really think they even know what "Deception Ignored" was) but it's also pretty clear that they are hugely influenced by Trouble and Sabbath. I think it's an awkward tag, but I have to concede with 'progressive doom' as Metal Inquisition say. Technical Doom sounds even worse.

    If you also check out the reunion album (and you should!) where they've calmed down the choppiness considerably, them being doom metal most of all is apparent. Doom isn't just about speed (though Confessor are plenty slow) it's about the feeling of inescapable dread, fatalism, the pendulum between anxiety and resignation. Confessor are about this on every song they ever did.

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  22. Doom isn't just about speed (though Confessor are plenty slow) it's about the feeling of inescapable dread, fatalism, the pendulum between anxiety and resignation. Confessor are about this on every song they ever did

    perfectly said!

    i love this band. i love forced entry. i love bas rutten!

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  23. en español, eso quiere decir que estoy muerto: excelente! una de las bandas mas chimbas de inicios de los noventa! el DVD es excelente! la voz y la bateria la distinguen del resto. esos eran los tiempos en que no todas las bandas sonaban iguales a pesar de estar dentro de los mismos generos o subgeneros! el adhesivo que traia mi dvd dice que ayudaron a forjar el sonido de lamb of god!!! y un "top notch" de don phillip anselmo!

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  24. dudes!
    those are NOT "green short shorts". they are his fuckin' swimming trunks so he can take a dip in the pool after the hot metal gig. Christ, theyre at a water park!

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  25. I've been thinking about the CONFESSOR demos ever since I read this post, and finally had to break down and rip 'em. Download and hear for yourself how superior they are!

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  26. No mention of how many people may've been duped into buying this record 'cause the dude from Paradise Lost was rocking the t-shirt on the back of Lost Paradise?

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  29. God this vocalist ruins everything! This guy needs to stop singing.

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