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NoVisible Scars is a cassette and vinyl label specializing in underground metal (the scuzzy, denim-and-patches kind) and noise. Despite my lack of means to play cassettes or vinyl, label proprietor Bill Connolly has plied me with his wares digitally - see our writeups on Scorched Earth and Nightbitch.

Recently Connolly set up an NVS Bandcamp so as to spread the analog word digitally. To further the oxymoron, Connolly was kind enough to compile a mixtape - both digital and analog - of his label's offerings. This 50-minute tape focuses on NVS' metal side, with tastes of industrial/noise at the end. We get Phil Swanson's mighty voice in three different bands (Vestal Claret, Nightbitch, Earthlord), hessian filth from NVS' archives, and tastes of upcoming releases (Draath, the black metal project of Hour of 13's Chad Davis, is absolutely banging).

You can download this mixtape below. I asked Connolly to say a few words about each tune. The first 10 people to purchase through the NVS Bandcamp and mention INVISIBLE ORANGES during the PayPal checkout process will get this compilation as a free cassette tape.

— Cosmo Lee

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Knowing Phil Swanson since the mid-90's (Phil even wrote for my zine Children of Caine back then) and then losing touch with him for some years, I was thrilled when we reconnected and he was doing music again. One of the first things I got from Phil was a Vestal Claret demo. I was all about the straight-for-heavy-metal vibe to the music, equal parts Judas Priest, Angel Witch, and Mercyful Fate. Phil offering to have me release the VC EP was a big deal for myself and NVS - not bad for just my second release. Originally intended as one half for a split with Hour of 13; in fact, these are Hour of 13 songs! "Devils Daughter" is equal parts heaviness and creepiness. Remember, too, kids, VC pre-dates the likes of Ghost, In Solitude, etc., by a good 5-6 years. Lost Loved Ones plus bonus tracks is a totally free download from the NVS bandcamp. VC is back together and signed to Cyclopean Records. Full length Bloodbath out in August. [Bandcamp]


Most underrated, especially in this era of "retro" extreme metal. Singer/guitarist Terry is a roommate of my buddy Mike Nihilist (Abazagorath), whom I meet when I was out in Seattle visiting Mike in '05. I stayed in touch and followed the progress of their fourt full length. I fell in love with the album after getting an advance from Terry and asked to release it on cassette.  Death/thrash/black and even some doom, SE write some catchy-ass tunes. I really dig Terry's Chuck Schuldiner /Cronos-esque vox. Later on the band took care of the CD version themselves.


After getting The Years of Pestilence 7" EP, I asked Paul Ledney about doing a cassette version. After working out the terms, I went to Paul's house (Paul is a 30-minute-away neighbor here in CT) to pick up the actual tape for mastering. A couple of things struck me while driving home from Paul's about the rehearsal cassette. For one, the tape itself is/was an unheard piece of black metal history circa '90/'91. Second, there's a bunch more songs on that tape that were not able to fit on the 7" EP version. I liked the fact of releasing this "in the raw", reminding me so much of the demo/rehearsal tapes I used to get back when I was tape trading, as you will hear. The cassette version came with a Profanatica cum rag! I have a few of the "rags" left, if anyone is interested, haha. I'm serious! Paul is actually an important "behind the scenes" part of NVS, as he does my layouts/printing.

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Profanatica tapes

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I introduced guitarist Ryan (Nightbitch, Ipsissimus) to Phil Swanson at the time Phil was working on resurrecting Vestal Claret. Ryan had just formed a heavy metal band, too, with some other local CT musicians. Phil was asked to do vocals/lyrics and to play some live gigs. Nightbitch recorded the Sex and Magic EP just in time for their gig with Hour of 13 in Ireland in the summer of '10, in which the Nightbitch guys performed as session members in Hour of 13. The "Nightbitch" featured here to me is an old Danzig-style song with Phil singing. Win win! Be sure to download the original 3-song demo from the NVS Bandcamp. Since the release of the Sex and Magic cassette, the EP has been given the vinyl and CD treatment through Cyclopean and Psychedoomelic Records. [Bandcamp]


Back in 2002, Fornicator released their debut full-length on Moribund Records. In 2000, the band recorded a demo of the album that was only sent to Moribund and not really heard beyond the band members themselves. The demo songs would come to make up the bulk of the debut full-length. Really, the 2000 demo is the 2002 album with different samples. Again, I give thanks to Mike Nihilist for putting me in touch with singer Rob Fornicator right around the time Whore's (Fornicator called it a day and then became Whore) Doing It for the Kids album was about to come out.  When Rob moved to NYC  in '04, that's when we started to talk and hang out a lot. Being that we'd become really good friends, he entrusted an official release of the Fornicator 2000 demo to myself and Tim over at Vaginal Apocalypse Productions. "Destroy These Cunts" is friggen HEAVY, even in its demo state. Fornicator always stood out for myself back in the early '00s, 'cos they had more actual heavy riffing and a kind of punk rock drumming, as opposed to oversaturated brutal technical death metal and blast-happy goregrind.


I got the Elders demo back 3-4 years ago from Devon from December Wolves. I loved their take on bands like Blasphemy, Bestial Warlust, Black Witchery, etc. I contacted Sadistik Slayer (guitars/vocals), as I wanted to feature Elders in my zine Mental Funeral. I stayed in regular contact with Mr. Slayer, and once I got a copy of the the recorded full-length, I was adamant about releasing it.  The track "Spell of Destruction" best represents the unrelenting speed/blasting the band is capable of. Be sure to check out the Elders boys' old-style death/grind band Your Kid's on Fire. [Bandcamp]

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Elders of the Apocalypse tapes

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I waited for more than five years for these guys to record something new and improve over the '05 rehearsal cassette. Man, did they come through for the EP. The death metal scene is on the rise again, with the majority of the newer bands borrowing heavily from the old Swedish sound. Blessed Offal appealed more to me, 'cos they didn't sound like Entombed, Grave, Dismember, etc. They were more along the lines of Repulsion, Autopsy, old Incantation, Disciples of Mockery, Rottrevore, Funebre, Dead Congregation, and Necros Christos - equal parts death/doom/grind, as you will hear in this track.  Also available on CD from Black Mass Records (Spain). [Bandcamp]


Yup, more Phil Swanson! Earthlord was a project with Phil on vox, current Vestal Claret guitarist Simon Tuozzoli on bass, Bill Ladley from Upwards of Endtime on guitar, and Fred Melillo from cult '70s prog rockers Legend also on bass. Legend's debut LP commands big bucks for original copies! The group recorded three songs for a 7" EP in 2007 based on Sumerian mythology that never came to be. FINALLY this will see the light of day though NVS as a split with German heavy metal doomers Tortured Spirit - probably the most psychedelic sounding music Phil has done.  "Gods of Antiquity" appeared briefly on the band's MySpace page. It was taken down, as it was thought to be included on a split 7" EP with Vestal Claret. For most, this is the first taste of this project's music.


Speaking of splits with Vestal Claret, "Deus Est Homo" is straight off of the upcoming split with VC. This was in the making for a while, too, Ungod's side being recorded a few years back. Vestal's side is nearing completion. Ungod's midpaced, blackened Celtic Frost riffage stacks up nicely against Vestal's traditional occult heavy metal. I'm excited to get this one out. There need to be more splits between bands unlikely paired in a genre.

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Draath - "Invocation III The Black Portal"

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This is a new project from Paul, whose Poison Tongue I put out awhile back. While Poison Tongue was something along the lines of Beherit meets Atrax Morgue, Degenerate Slug falls between Havohej and Goblin. This is an exclusive taste of what's to come from the 4-song debut split cassette release with Reclusa.


This premiere track is from the debut full-length. This a project from Chad Davis (Hour of 13, Set, Subklinik, etc,), who handles all the instruments. Musically Draath comes across to me as Nightbringer! The album was recorded in one take as a ritual. There's a ton of atmosphere to the songs and generally to the album as a whole.


Reclusa fall somewhere between, say, old Godflesh, G.G.F.H., and Wormphlegm - an abstract mix of doom, industrial, and ambient. This is the third track out of five from the split with Degenerate Slug. You get to hear it here first! In the meantime, grab yourself the Doorway to the Perpetual Suffering pro tape from Vaginal Apocalypse Productions and The Anticonscience CDR/chapbook from Crucial Blast.

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NoVisible Scars Mixtapes 2011

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