Noise Pollution #10: Radio and Other Archaic Methods of Delivery
I have a memory of walking home from school, sometime in the spring of 1995, listening to My Dying Bride’s Turn Loose the Swans on a tape that I had dubbed from my friend Ralph's CD. I was a sophomore in high school and was just starting to figure out who I wanted to be (at that time). My father had died in a plane crash about a year and a half before and if you mix in all the other shit that’s happening to your mind and body at that age you're left angry, confused, and with a few crunchy socks here and there. Laundry aside, I remember it was lightly drizzling and I wasn't with anyone, just walking down alleys and side streets, taking my time to get home. I had always been deeply into music but this was one of the first times I can recall a memory being built entirely around experiencing it. I grew up near the ocean, so I can still vividly recall the smell of salt air and spring rain from that day, which is incredible since I can barely remember a work email I sent fifteen minutes ago. I was a fucked up kid but I began to be a fucked up kid reaching towards something.
My friends and I had all started to get into the darker and more extreme side of metal once we entered high school… but it was a small town so, as you can guess, this was a shallow pool. As it was the pre-Internet age it was difficult to really find music that would quench our ever growing thirst for something different, something special. The two best entryways for this (at the time) were "Headbangers Ball" and "Beavis and Butthead." I had been a devotee of "Headbangers Ball" since the '80s and discovered a lot of favorites through there like Danzig, Sepultura, and, Type O Negative, but they rarely played any death metal, especially once they shifted focus to being a louder "120 Minutes”, MTV’s two hour programing block of “alternative” music videos. "Beavis and Butthead," on the other hand, would play Morbid Angel–mostly because it was an easy target for them to fuck around with. So this was our initial entry into extreme metal but the two things that propelled us (and probably ruined my life) deeper into the underground were a college radio show called "The Hours of Desolation" and a xeroxed zine called "Rubberneck."
Years ago on the Ocean City boardwalk there was a store called Tunes on the Dunes that we would frequent in the summer. It was a treasure trove of outside the box music, mostly Grateful Dead and "120 Minutes" type shit. Somewhere between the incense and woven blankets people would buy to go fuck on top of the beach on we found a stack of a free zines, including two issues of "Rubberneck." It was a simple zine, even by those days standards, with interviews and reviews of all genres of metal, cobbled together and Xeroxed with little concern for aesthetics. It became a Bible of sorts due to the extensive reviews that generally would compare bands to each other, giving a roadmap from one band you may dig into several others. It would be an excellent companion to the various radio shows on the Stockton College's station, WLFR, which was where the creator of the zine, Todd Sciore, had cut his teeth with his own metal show years before.
WLFR was broadcast out of the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and had a radius of less than 20 miles. Being able to listen to the station was entirely dependent on the weather at the time because the only place in my house I could pick up a fucking signal was outside on the porch. Once a week it would broadcast "The Hours of Desolation," which would be the final program on for the day so its duration would vary depending on whether its host, Bruce, would want to stay later or not. That it was also broadcast after 9 PM so it would be pitch black on my porch helped the atmosphere. Every week, Bruce would play shit that blew our fucking minds, bands we had never heard of, records that would impact us for the rest of our lives. This is where we would hear Darkthrone, Emperor, and dozens of others for the first time. It changed everything.
Eventually we would all start calling in and asking Bruce to play whatever band sounded interesting from the reviews section of "Rubberneck" or from discovering that "Metal Maniacs" and "Pit Magazine" existed. His show would move into the middle of the week, perfectly situated right after school, and because of this he would invite us to come up and hang out in studio, which was fucking huge for us. His girlfriend ultimately would get her own show, "The Covenant of Abomination," and we would become familiar with a long running punk program called "Rock Show" that dabbled in death and thrash metal (and is still fucking going to this day, over 30 years later). Outside of blind buying a recording these were the only avenues to check out new music.
WLFR's importance to my life cannot be understated. I eventually became an intern there during my junior year of high school which led to my own show, "The Pagan Winter," a few years later which lasted deep into the '00s. It was exciting in a way that discovering new music never had been (or would be again). It eventually evolved into skipping school to get on a bus to South Street in Philadelphia to hit the record shops, going to shows at the Trocadero and inspiring us to form bands and get into the tape trading scene. Every single aspect of my life and what I’ve done over the last thirty years directly correlates to a show on college radio with a dogshit listening radius, from writing this column to the fucking birth of my child. So, thanks Bruce & Lake Fred Radio, you’ve probably ruined and saved my life more times than you could imagine.
Also, there’s a new Killing Joke EP, Lord of Chaos, which I was going to write about but it’s really only two new songs and two remixes so there’s not a hell of a lot I can do to fill a few paragraphs. It’s their first new material since 2015's excellent Pylon and feels like an extension of said record. Killing Joke seem to have comfortably found their groove with their original configuration still intact after reforming for 2010's Absolute Dissent, seemingly the most "stable" (formation wise, anyway) decade the band has had. The EP's namesake and "Total" are both excellent appetizers for a (hopefully) forthcoming new full-length, but I don’t really care about remixes, so the inclusion of two tracks off Pylon remixed and reformatted don’t do shit for me at all, but your mileage may vary I guess. Between this and the bite sized K÷93 we're inching towards something that isn'’t yet another fucking live album, so all hail progress I suppose.